It’s Time for Millennium Consumption Goals

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Ecologia

I read yesterday that “a Sri Lankan scientist is calling for the drafting of “Millennium Consumption Goals” to [help] rich countries to curb their climate-damaging consumption habits, in the same way the poor have Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to get them out of poverty.” A fantastic idea—but what would these MCGs include?

For those unfamiliar with the Millennium Development Goals these are a set of 8 goals for “underdeveloped” societies to halve poverty, lack of access to clean water, illiteracy, and other key indicators of underdevelopment by 2015. So, naturally we should have a set of parallel goals in overdeveloped countries. As the scientist, Mohan Munasinghe, noted, consumption is at the heart of overdeveloped countries’ environmental burden so tackling this issue head-on is key. And I’d argue not just for Earth but for citizens of overdeveloped countries as well.

So, what targets should these MCGs set forth? Unfortunately the article doesn’t mention anything more but I’m going to start the list and encourage you all to add additional ideas.

Let’s start with an easy one:

  1. Halve obesity and overweight rates by 2020 (we’re starting the MCGs later than the MDGs). This will reduce mortality, morbidity, and economic costs, as well as reduce ecological pressures driven by overconsumption of food.
  2. The future of motorized transportation?The future of motorized transportation? 

  3. Halve the work week from the current 40+ hour per week to 20 hours per week. This will better distribute jobs, wealth, promote healthier living, and reduce economic activity, which is essential in our ecologically taxed world. For a good paper on this topic, read New Economic Foundation’s excellent report 21 Hours.
  4. Better distribute wealth by raising taxes on the wealthiest members of society. That one will get me in trouble with the American Tea Party but let’s dust off the idea of Noblesse Oblige: to those given much, much is expected in return. The days of extreme wealth spent on luxurious living must draw to a close. The Earth can’t handle it any longer.
  5. Double the rate of use of non-motorized transport (bikes, walking, etc.). Increasing these forms of transport will improve health, reduce fossil fuel and material use, and make for safer cities.
  6. Guarantee access to health care for all. Yes, another minefield in the USA, but standard procedure in most industrial countries so that’ll be an easy goal for most countries to achieve.

Ok, I’ll stop there. Please help me add 3 more to the list to get it to 8 and then we can see about getting this submitted to the United Nations. After all, if those in overdeveloped countries can set goals for those in developing countries, the UN should show the same concern to those living poorly in industrial countries.

This article was cross-posted from the Center for a New American Dream


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