March 28, 2009

Global governance at the G20: protest on the outside, national self interest on the inside. Where will the solutions we need come from?

Simultaneous Policy Adopters are planning a visible presence at protests in London today in advance of the G20 summit.

Many other groups are also to be there. The Guardian reports disparate groups are setting aside their differences to protest.

And there is the nub of the problem of the Global Justice Movement in my view. It can unite in opposition, but has no real mechanism for debate and building consensus on alternatives. It has struck me at the European Social Forums I have attended that those seeking democratic discussion are frustrated; the slogan may be 'another world is possible', but there is no route map for bringing it about.

Even amongst campaign coalitions such as the Trade Justice Movement, I have seen how policy aspirations have to be scaled back to what is politically achievable: it is a piece meal approach that wins important concessions, but nothing like the sweeping changes advocated. A broad coalition campaigning in the UK for corporate accountability measures had to celebrate as a victory a requirement that corporations report on their social and environmental impacts; indeed, it was a significant victory given the scale of political opposition. Yet there are no standards for the reports, nor sanctions if companies lie. Perhaps those will be achieved in the decades to come once the reporting principal has bedded in. That is the best hope on offer through conventional campaigning. On climate change, some campaigners are already voicing fears that the lack of progress means there is no hope left: runaway climate change could be unavoidable.

It is such concerns that fuel my support for the Simultaneous Policy approach, which provides a structure for discussing, developing and approving the policies needed to address global problems. My own proposal, which gained good support in the last voting round, is for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority, something with real teeth to ensure corporations comply with the human rights and environmental standards their glossy reports claim to respect and means to ensure governments play their part in regulating wayward corporations. See:

Other top issues and policies are given in the youtube clip below.

Simultaneous Policy Adopters call on politicians to pledge to implement, alongside other governments, the policies agreed on by we, the people, of the world. Simultaneous implementation removes the principal obstacle to progress: the fear that unilateral action will put a country at a competitive disadvantage, harm its economy and lose political leaders their power. It breaks the power of vested interests to play one country of against another.

The democratic process and the undertaking by Adopters to give a voting preference at elections to candidates who have made the pledge overcomes the second obstacle: the influence of vested interests on the political process. Business leaders may gain privileged access to politicians, but their hold on setting policies to address global problems is broken.

Some politicians have already signed up, as much for the logic of the approach as the chance to pick up votes. When I briefed one MP on the strategy she immediately saw the point, having campaigned without success for aviation fuel to be taxed as other fuels; such a tax, the government argues, would shift air transport from London to Paris or Amsterdam. But not if introduced simultaneously. She returned the signed pledge a few months later.

Even the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, sees the point of simultaneous action even if the Simultaneous Policy is not yet on his radar. Look at what he was saying in New York this week, as reported in The Guardian:


"Global problems will need better global solutions. In the wake of the second world war, we managed to create an IMF [International Monetary Fund], a World Bank, a WTO [World Trade Organisation], a Marshall Plan. We had the capacity with vision and determination to create institutions based on the principle that for prosperity to be sustained it had to be shared and we had to have mechanisms by which we brought the whole world into this enterprise.

"I think we need the same vision now to say the IMF was built for the days when you were dealing with balance of payments problems of individual countries in essentially a national set of economies. Now we've got a global market place, global competition, global flows of capital, global sourcing of goods.

"The institutions you need to deal with these problems are going to be quite different for this new era, so we must shape them."


Well, that's great, but if the G20 is capable of the vision and agreement to achieve these new institutions, what guarantee is there that they will not be as divisive and flawed as the IMF and World Bank and the structural adjustment policies they forced developing countries to adopt? Ironically the IMF, controlled by rich nations, has in the past pressured developing countries not to intervene to protect their banking systems, saying they must be allowed to fail; when it suits them, rich countries do not follow the rules they impose on others.

The answer is, of course, that there is no guarantee. Even if it works, the vision is still for perpetual growth on a planet that already cannot support the demands placed upon it.

While the Simultaneous Policy campaign cannot offer guarantees about the policies developed in the democratic space it provides, the fact that people around the world are invited to participate in the process, shape the policies and vote on them does provide checks and balances missing from the rich countries' club.

The G20 will see campaigners united in opposition on the outside and leaders inside protecting their individual national interests when we need coordinated, coherent and effective action.

If all involved backed the Simultaneous Policy approach, at the very least as a parallel strategy, we might get somewhere. Global problems require global solutions, but they also merit global involvement of citizens in deciding those solutions.

You can take part by signing up as a Simultaneous Policy Adopter free of charge at:

This clip gives information on the state of policies at the moment. As an Adopter you will be able to vote against any you don't like and put forward and support those that you do.

March 23, 2009

Put People First March - London 28 March 2009. 11:00 - 16:00.

From Simpol-UK

Put People First March
Saturday 28th March, London
11:00 - 16:00 Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park
Nearest tubes - Embankment, Waterloo, Temple

We have harmonicas, amped loop stations, beat boxers, bass guitars and sensible ideas; so bring yourselves, voices, instruments and enthusiasm.

How do want the world to be? (Rap)

Let's write the next chapter of history.
Become our own world leaders
Our own global authority, by signing up to Simpol for free!
So what is your policy? X3

Governments issue interest free money internationally?
To finance existing CO2 neutral technology?
Job creation re-mechanisation of the global industry?
To save us all from impending climate change catastrophe
And civilization break down, lack of energy security.

Don't demand it, make it happen via the Simpol Voting Strategy!
Simpol is global co-operation for peace, justice sustainability and prosperity.


Sing-along "Let's Work Together"

Together we stand, Divided we fall, Come on now people and let's get on the ball and
work together, Come on come on let's work together, Because together we will stand,
every boy, girl, woman and man."

To get versed with this song see –

Sign up and invite others on Face Book - "Simpol Mobile Musical Street Stall Put People First March"

For exact location on the day call Barnaby on 07799603042

March 19, 2009

We should have acted on climate change yesterday - please do so today

At the end of 2009 our leaders will meet in Copenhagen to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol for addressing climate change. On past experience, they will stress the need for urgent action and do little, fearing the steps necessary are to unpalatable for their citizens. And it is short-term considerations and the fear of losing power that drives them, that and the industrialists whispering in their ears threatening disinvestment and loss of jobs while pushing a wadge of money into their election campaign chests.

Climate change scientists have been meeting in Copenhagen to discuss the latest scientific findings. It is scary stuff. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero today would not be enough: the gases in the system are already having an impact and will continue to do so. Limiting mean global temperature increases to 2C is likely a lost battle. Much above this and the human race itself is facing defeat. Here is part of the analysis from George Monbiot in The Guardian yesterday:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that "global mean temperature changes greater than 4C above 1990-2000 levels" would "exceed ... the adaptive capacity of many systems". At this point there's nothing you can do, for instance, to prevent the loss of ecosystems, the melting of glaciers and the disintegration of major ice sheets. Elsewhere it spells out the consequences more starkly: global food production, it says, is "very likely to decrease above about 3C". Buy your way out of that.

And it doesn't stop there. The IPCC also finds that, above 3C of warming, the world's vegetation will become "a net source of carbon". This is just one of the climate feedbacks triggered by a high level of warming. Four degrees might take us inexorably to 5C or 6C: the end - for humans - of just about everything.

In its last drought, the Amazon rainforest is calculated to have emitted more carbon dioxide than Japan and Europe combined. With more disruption to the climate, droughts will become increasingly common and severe. See:

Our leaders have failed us and may well fail us again in Copenhagen. There are two things that you can do about this.

Firstly, join in marches to put pressure on the leaders of the main industrialised nations meeting at the G20 in London. There are various groups organising things. One is AVAAZ. For details see:

Secondly, call on politicians to pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments. The measures that are needed to address climate change are being discussed within the democratic space created by Simpol. Anyone can join in by signing up as a Simpol Adopter, which is free to do. Adopters can propose, discuss and vote on proposals. In the last annual vote climate change came out as the top issue and 'Contraction and Convergence' to deal with it as the top issue. See: - to sign up. - to join in the discussion.

Combine the two actions and go on a march with a Simpol placard. Hopefully Simpol will make resources available on the website.

You can write to your elected representatives at any time. Or better still arrange a meeting. My Member of Parliament signed the Simpol pledge after a 10 minute briefing from me. A candidate in the European elections brought a signed pledge along to a local group meeting I invited her to. The more pledges from politicians, the sooner we get governments on board and the sooner implementation of the Simultaneous Policy can be triggered. If they let us down in Copenhagen and waste another decade, Simpol may be our best hope. Please support it as a parallel strategy to marching!

The European Parliament elections are coming up, so now is a key time to contact the candidates. We cannot let these opportunities pass by. For information on how to do this, see:

If we cannot move to constructive cooperation between nations to address climate change and other global problems, the future is bleak: nations battling for resources as food supplies diminish and mass movement of refugees leads to social breakdown.

Better to contact your politicians now while there is still time.

March 17, 2009

Simpol visionaries

A proposal was submitted for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy in 2007 for 'Regulation of the Sale of Debt'.

Proposer David Smith, wrote: "The level of defaults on 'sub prime' mortgages in the US affects world markets and possibly the real economies, because these debts are sold on without being understood by the purchaser. The panic has affected credit and interest rates everywhere. In an interdependent world this probably has more effect on third world economies than on us. Surely there could be some kind of regulation which would force banks to evaluate such transactions properly beforehand. Why hasnt the international financial community already set its house in order? I dont know but partly because it is not very farsighted, but also there is a lack of will."


A year later, the international banking system collapsed and the world financial system would have ceased to operate had governments not stepped in.

Good to see a Simultaneous Policy Adopter was way ahead in warning of this. Unfortunately the proposal gained insufficient support in voting in 2007 and dropped out of the process. David's proposal for the 'regulation of derivative markets' also failed to gain support:

Which goes to show that the democratic space promoted by Simpol is a great place to look for visionary ideas, but also that people who see the point of ideas need to help in explaining them and encouraging other Adopters to support them. As David said on his proposal for regulating the sale of debt: "This suggestion needs input from someone who undertsands financial markets better than I do."

Following the credit crunch, many journalists and others have investigated these issues and tried to explain them. If the proposal was resubmitted (perhaps in revised form) it would probably do much better in voting. There is now a requirement to have 9 seconders for proposals, which helps to beef up proposals and put together a team to promote them.

Some proposals do perhaps deserve to drop out. Certainly there was little support for Esperanto being made the world language. But it is also worth revisiting some of those that did not catch the imagination of Adopters in past voting. The policy development process is one of reformulation and refinement. See all policies on the discussion board at:

You can post your own 'work in progress' to gain help in developing it and to find seconders at: at:

March 8, 2009

Countdown to the European Union elections 2009

The election of the European Parliament will take place in less than three months (from 4 - 7 June 2009). These are the biggest trans-national elections in history as elected candidates will represent 500 million Europeans.

It is also an ideal opportunity to encourage election candidates to sign the pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments. No doubt the Simultaneous Policy organisations will be announcing the campaign and tools to help with this in due course.

In the meantime, it is possible to find the list of election candidates on party websites. I have started sending message like the following to candidates:

Congratulations on being the lead candidate on the party list for our regions European Election.

I am contacting you to ask your position on the Simultaneous Policy campaign. I am also sending you the pledge form for supporting the Simultaneous Policy campaign in case you have not signed this already.

As Gordon Brown and other leaders have been heard to say repeatedly in recent weeks and months: “Global problems require global solutions”.

The Simultaneous Policy or Simpol campaign brings people together around the world to discuss, develop and approve the policies they wish to see implemented. Anyone can take part in this process by signing up as a Simpol Adopter, which is free to do. This democratic and transparent process is ongoing. In the last annual vote conducted in October 2008, the top five issues identified by Adopters were: Climate change, The power of transnational corporations, Environment, International financial markets and other financial issues, Governance (global and national).

You can find further details in the policy section of

Politicians are asked to sign a pledge agreeing in principle to implement these policies alongside other governments when all, or sufficient, other governments have made the same pledge. Until such time that implementation can be triggered, it is business as usual: doing as much as we can unilaterally, while trying to address these pressing issues through attempting to forge international deals and facing down powerful vested interests that play governments off against each other, threatening disinvestment if their agenda is not followed.

If you add your pledge to those already received from other politicians at both national and European level it will move us closer to being able to implement policies that have the backing of the people of the world. The Simultaneous Policy is to be coherent package that can break through the obstacle of destructive competition between nations to move the world into a new era of constructive cooperation. The pledge is provisional as the policies can only be finalised when there is sufficient global support as they need to address the situation faced at that time and all people of voting age will be given a chance to approve or reject the package.

The campaign is undeniably ambitious, but conventional policy making has failed to address global problems adequately and may be unable to do so. By signing and returning the attached pledge you are indicating you are prepared to give the Simultaneous Policy approach a try as a parallel strategy. The pledge can also be downloaded from:

Adopters undertake to encourage their preferred party to support the campaign. Those without a party preference undertake to give a preference to any candidates at elections (within reason) who have signed the pledge. Hence the campaign makes addressing global problems an election issue and signing the pledge can provide an advantage to those candidates that have done so. In the run up to the election, Simpol’s website will indicate which candidates have signed the pledge.

Please let me know if you will sign the pledge and if so, any statement of support you would like to communicate to voters in our region. If you do not wish to sign the pledge, I would be interested to know why as I can see no disadvantage from signing. As global problems threaten to run out of control, it is surely worth a try.

Global problems do indeed require global solutions. It will be wonderful if those are introduced in the immediate future. But if that does not happen it will be wonderful to know that the Simultaneous Policy approach has your support as a parallel strategy.

March 7, 2009

The Amazon rainforest is wobbling on a climate change tipping point

On 28 February 2007 I heard Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute speak on his proposal for addressing climate change: Contraction and Convergence.

He spoke of climate change tripping points, citing in particular the risk that the Amazon rain forest could dry out to such an extent that it becomes a net producer of carbon dioxide. In other words, it would change from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. He said that an increase in forest fires (not at all common in a rain forest) had already been noticed.

Well there is a report yesterday that during a drought in 2005 the Amazon was a significant producer of carbon dioxide due to tree death. There is a report here:

The unusual and severe Amazon drought in 2005 led to the region emitting an extra five billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This exceeds the annual emissions of Europe and Japan combined, according to new research published today.
---extract ends

Previously I have written here about efforts to protect the Amazon from deforestation. The Brazilian government has set up an Amazon fund to this end. If the Simultaneous Policy (or other means of forming global policies) bring in polluter-pays taxes, some of these could go to such a fund. See:

But we should be very afraid because it was not deforestation as such that caused the Amazon to be a carbon source in 2005, it was climate change itself. As the climate changes, weather patterns become unstable, leading to droughts and flooding, unprecedented heat waves and cold snaps. The destruction of trees that took decades, if not centuries, to develop is not something that can easily be reversed. More carbon dioxide is released and there are less trees to absorb it. Weather becomes more extreme, and so on in a positive feedback cycle that could run away.

The 100 months campaign has suggested there is a very narrow and closing window for the necessary action: it has now closed to 93 months. Certainly this is a campaign strategy designed to galvanize action, nobody can be so precise. But this research suggests the tipping point on which the Amazon forest pivots is already starting to wobble.

NOTE: I recorded Aubrey Meyer and other speakers at the event in 2007 and subsequently played his talk at a virtual meeting in Second Life (international meetings without air travel), see:

You can hear the talk on the rolling programme of Second Life Simultaneous Policy Adopters' Group (SL-SPAG) radio at:

March 3, 2009

Gordon Brown calls on Obama to join a global crack down on tax havens

Once again Gordon Brown is calling for synchronised action by governments to address a global problem, this time on tax havens.

According to a report in The Guardian today, he is seeking support from the US and other G20 countries and suggesting that countries that do not cooperate should be sanctioned:

Gordon Brown has said he hopes the G20 summit in London will agree to name and shame those countries that refuse to end banking secrecy, warning that their behaviour endangers the stability of the world economy.

The suggestion is countries will be put on a blacklist: "Countries on the list are put at a disadvantage in terms of mutual cooperation and recognition of jurisdictions."

There could be a stronger enforcement regime. In my proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority, I propose that governments that seek to gain competitive advantage by allowing their corporations to abuse human rights and the environment anywhere in the world could have punitive sanctions levied upon them. Such an approach has worked to enforce World Trade Organisation agreements. See:

With the Simultaneous Policy process, proposals are developed transparently and democratically, unlike the way global policies are usually developed. Back room (or Green room) deals, economic blackmail and other forms of threats are used by the powerful to force through their agenda.

No proposals on tax havens have been put forward for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy as yet. Whether those of Gordon Brown are the best on offer is debatable, and should be debated. Other proposals are being put forward by the Tax Justice network. See:

Anyone who has signed up as an Simultaneous Policy Adopter can put forward proposals. Simply go to the 'policy' section of:

Adopters call on politicians to pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments when all, or sufficient, have made the same pledge. Adopters call on their preferred party to sign the pledge, or if they do not have one, all parties to do so, giving a preference to any (within reason) that does so.

Gordon Brown is right to say that global problems need global solutions. But in a globalised world, democratic involvement in developing those global solutions is required. That is what the Simultaneous Policy aims to provide.