2040 review – an optimist’s guide to saving the world

This interesting film by the Australian environmentalist Damon Gameau is an optimistic guide to the workable “regenerative” community projects that can help combat climate change. He imagines the great things that could happen by 2040, when his daughter will be a young woman. Gameau is clearly concerned to move his rhetoric away from anything righteously angry or confrontational – he doesn’t, for example, insist on immediate veganism, just a progressive lessening of meat-eating – and gives us an easygoing can-do approach in which there is no great emphasis on sacrifice and not even any obvious sense of emergency.

Sometimes this gives the film a slightly naive apolitical flavour, with repeated, cutesy vox pops from kids about how they want the world to be a nicer place; and occasionally, the film itself treats its audiences like a class of primary schoolkids. But more often there is something likable and practical about what Gameau is proposing.

He talks about solar power, and how it can enable householders and communities to donate or sell excess power to create micro-grids of electricity. He imagines a world in which car ownership will go the way of owning films on videocassette or DVD, and travel will be about leasing or using driverless electric cars and an expansion of public transport. He talks about new farming models that can capture or sequester carbon in the atmosphere and about new approaches to the cultivation of seaweed to promote marine biodiversity.

In the larger sphere, he wonders aloud about greater education of women, which will mean their having fewer babies later, thus reducing pressure on resources. The focus on what individuals can do right now is attractive.

2040 is released in the UK on 8 November.