The Twin Imperatives


Climate Change and Sustainability

Humanity and our global ecosystems face significant challenges today

Drought, floods, access to clean air and water, food security, habitat loss, poverty, just to name a few

Climate change and unsustainable development will exacerbate the challenges we face


If we are to deal effectively with current and future crises,

address climate change and sustainability simultaneously and in a positively reinforcing manner


Twin Imperatives

There is a clear and obvious need to deal with climate change and its adverse effects


At the same time and with the same level of urgency, we have to improve sustainability across the planet

  • to improve the lives of the poorest
  • to protect habitat
  • to maintain the ecosystem services that we rely on


This is why we call climate change and sustainability the twin imperatives


Climate change impacts our efforts to improve the sustainability of our ecosystems, society and economy


It presents a substantial risk of overwhelming our attempts to improve sustainability

especially if we approach each problem separately, without reference to the other


Some systems exacerbate emissions growth, like

  • electricity expansion using fossil fuels
  • increasing agricultural land by clearing primary forest
  • cooking and water boiling energy provided by forest-sourced or fossil fuels

We need to improve these systems’ sustainability as they are substantial contributors to the dramatically shortening time we have left to act before even more severe impacts are locked in

Example of parabolic solar cooker

Avoid Perverse Outcomes


Ignoring the interplay of the twin imperatives increases the risk of generating a perverse outcome which works against us

Rainforest cleared for soy bean Brazil

It would be a perverse outcome if we address climate change in a way that ignores the impacts on sustainability, like

  • installing large scale renewable energy (hydro, wind, solar) in such a way that causes the wanton destruction of habitat, culture, heritage
  • displacing people from their traditional lands in order to “protect” the carbon in forests
  • extracting minerals and manufacturing technology used in the “renewable energy revolution” in a way that pollutes, destroys habitat or relies on exploitation of child or slave labour


It is equally perverse to improve an aspect of sustainability in such a way that it exacerbates the climate crisis, like

  • increasing access and supply of electricity by installing large scale fossil fuel generators
  • gaining food security by expansion of agriculture into primary forest


What we need is for our actions to act positively on the twin imperatives simultaneously and in a reinforcing way, utilising the Effect Multiplier concept

Carbon Offsets and the Twin Imperatives

Carbon offsets can be created by projects that address both aspects of the twin imperatives

Sustainability outcomes beyond the carbon are highlighted for all of the offsets that Beyond Neutral sells

  • Renewable energy projects typically create employment, improve local infrastructure, decrease air pollution
  • Cookstove and Safe Water projects improve indoor air quality, reduce health problems, decrease forest degradation
  • REDD+ projects are the epitome of addressing the interaction between achieving sustainability outcomes and reducing emissions – without the sustainability improvements, the forest would continue to be lost


Explore our projects, selecting sustainability outcomes you want in addition to the carbon

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