A Practical Guide to Saving the Planet

The Race is On: Secrets and Solutions of Climate Change

Global Documentary Films (2019)

Film Review

Unlike most climate change films, which emphasize doom and gloom, The Race is On assumes a surprisingly optimistic tone. Its point of departure is that we already have all the technology we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040*: all that is needed is to widely implement this technology in a smart and efficient way.

This is also one of the first films to address the economics of climate change. British economist Kate Raworth advises climate activists to challenge the dogma of perpetual economic growth. Heavily promoted by mainstream economists and policy makers, the growth dogma is over 150 years old. Raworth maintains it’s totally obsolete. Decades of evidence establish that economic growth benefits vested interests at the expense of working people.

Raworh also urges climate activists to lobby government for policy changes that make it easier for working people to adopt the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve net zero emissions. They need to campaign for carbon taxes (on carbon polluters, not working people) and feed-in tariffs** and subsidies to help capitalize renewable energy infrastructure and public transportation projects.

Carbon Zero UK points to the rapid shift to renewable energy that’s already occurring in the UK – due to its low cost compared to fossil fuel energy. They also point out that only 20% of UK’s energy usage consists of electricity. This will need to shift to 80% to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Likewise the organization advocates for what they call “polycentric governance” to help drive the transformation that needs to occur. Polycentric governance is a partnership between top down and bottom up leadership. They point to many innovative programs (eg Transition Towns) helping communities reduce their fossil fuel energy usage all over the US and UK. We now need to lobby government at all levels for to recognize and expand these initiatives.

*IPCC scientists advise that we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 to limit global warming to 2° C – by 2030 to limit it to 1.5° C. The latter target is preferable because millions of vulnerable Third World residents will die with 2° of warming.

**A feed-in tariff is a payment above the market rate to a small scale producer of renewable energy by a large scale fossil fuel energy provider.