The Near Future – a Novel that Blends Fact and Fiction
Finally, after browsing through all these official government documents and bureaucratese you might want a good story to illuminate what it's all about. The Ministry of the Future is a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, an absorbing story of a future that is just around the corner if we don’t act.
The Ministry of the title is the user-friendly name for a climate change oversight body, created (fictionally) at COP29, designed to “work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and all the agencies of the United Nations, and all the governments signatory to the Paris Agreement, to advocate for the world’s future generations of citizens, whose rights, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are as valid as our own. This new Subsidiary Body is furthermore charged with defending all living creatures present and future who cannot speak for themselves, by promoting their legal standing and physical protection.” That official body was renamed by the press as “the Ministry for the Future,” and as the novel reports the name stuck.
US political commentator Ezra Klein (Vox) said "If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future." It is an eerily accurate tale of how climate change affects the world now, the power interests that maintain the status quo, the disruptors agitating for change, and the many working for change in Ministries of the Future all over the globe.
A choice lies ahead. The IPCC is clear that a 1.5 degree future is possible. Collective action by Nations, governments and individual is the only path towards a sustainable future.
Former US President Barack Obama also chose The Ministry for the Future as one of his favourite books of the year: his words offer both hope and a call to action for the decision-makers at COP:
"We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it." - US President Barack Obama
Writing a new ending to this story will need to include the voices that have historically been left out of climate talks, from the human and non-human communities that share the planet.