Saturday, 31 May 2014

Climate Change solutions: "Revealing greater agreement than the pro-growth versus de-growth dichotomy suggests."

It's not just a question of how your politics shapes your view of the 'reality' of climate change:
Futures Forum: "Climate science has been dragged into the American-style culture wars that are turning British intellectual life into a battlefield."
Futures Forum: The continuing politicisation of the climate change debate

It's also a question of how your politics shapes the 'solutions' to climate change:

And one of the central ideas for discussion is whether we can 'decouple' economic growth from environmental degredation:
'Decoupling' economic growth to save the climate
Jonathon Porritt: EU 'remains mired in the last century' - Blue and Green Tomorrow
Over €100 Million for Climate Change Innovation Programmes Announced in Europe - PR.com
Decarbonising The Economy Will Save $71 Trillion By 2050 Says IEA By Sophie Yeo

In economic and environmental fields, decoupling is becoming increasingly used in the context of economic production and environmental quality.

In 2011, the International Resource Panel, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned that by 2050, the human race could devour 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year – three times its current appetite – unless nations can start decoupling economic growth rates from the rate of natural resource consumption.[1]

The OECD has made decoupling a major focus of the work of its Environment Directorate. The OECD defines the term as follows: the term 'decoupling' refers to breaking the link between "environmental bads" and "economic goods." It explains this as having rates of increasing wealth greater than the rates of increasing impacts.[2]

Tim Jackson uses this distinction to caution again technology-optimists who use the term decoupling as an "escape route from the dilemma of growth."[3] He points out that "there is quite a lot of evidence to support the existence of [relative decoupling]" in global economies, however "evidence for [absolute decoupling] is harder to find."[3]

Similarly, Herman Daly (1991, p. 118) states: It is true that "In 1969 a dollar's worth of GNP was produced with one-half the materials used to produce a dollar's worth of 1900 GNP, in constant dollars." Nevertheless, over the same period total materials by consumption increased by 400 percent.[4]

From the New Economics Forum:

Climate change: time to end the tug of war


What's stopping us joining forces to act on climate change? UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki moon thinks scepticism is still one of the fundamental obstacles. But I think there’s more to it than that.
As the effects of climate change hit home, a deeper disagreement is surfacing: not from the dwindling sceptic camp, but from the growing proportion of us already convinced of the need for action. We all want an environmentally sustainable economy, but when it comes to how we get there – we’re divided.
At one pole, green growth advocates believe the economy should remain broadly unchanged. We should continue to pursue economic growth because technological innovation will someday enable us to use natural resources in a sustainable way. At the other pole, degrowth advocates believe that economies must actually contract if we are to avoid breaching environmental limits.
Sure, many of us, if pressed, might place our own position on the matter somewhere between these two extremes.  But has framing the issue in terms of this division created a tendency to (consciously or not) relate with one or other pole; making us reluctant to give serious consideration to the views set out by the “other side”?
I think so. And I think it’s slowing us down. Which is why in the new paper we’ve just completed as part of the European Commission’s NETGREEN project, we set out to abandon our preconceptions on how best to achieve a green economy and take a more objective look at the main approaches that have been championed. The idea was to get to grips with exactly why the approaches differ on three key aspects:
  1. the strategic approach to transitioning;
  2. the interventions necessary to make the transition happen;and
  3. the political viability of the overall approach.
We found that, once you give equal merit to all approaches, some incontestable truths become clear, revealing greater agreement than the pro-growth versus degrowth dichotomy suggests.  
For example, the cost and extent of technological innovation needed to decouple production from environmental degradation is often presented as one of the main battlegrounds in the green economy debate. But scratching at the surface reveals that at the heart of this lies the indisputable truth that we simply cannot know whether advances in technology will provide the solution to environmental sustainability. This realisation makes it clear that the dispute isn’t about what technology will achieve, but whether technological innovation is the only solution that’s likely to work; and whether alternative solutions should also be pursued, such as convincing citizens to switch to less resource intensive lifestyles.
This isn’t a new revelation - but we think that by approaching the disagreement more objectively, it’s easier to get to the crux of the issue, frame it in terms of the true source of disagreement, and identify common ground along the way. By taking such an approach, we might just be able to find opportunities for constructive discussion, be able to move thinking forward, and crucially, accelerate progress towards a green economy.
Climate change: time to end the tug of war | new economics foundation

From the EU Commissioner for Environment:

Fewer forests in our cars

Conference on the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation in the context of climate change, development and biodiversity loss

Brussels, 26 May 2014

I am convinced that our approach and strategy for tackling the challenge of deforestation and forest degradation needs to part of our wider resource efficiency strategy. We need to decouple our economic growth from resource use. This means moving away from traditional economic models, old technologies and failed ideas.

Our economic system carries a legacy of decades, if not centuries, of resource‑intensive growth. We are far too tied to a linear economic model, which leads to the extraction of ever more resources, only to quickly discard them as waste. And allow me to say “what a waste!”, what a waste of precious resources. And when you consider that when we throw away forest resources we are at the same time increasing the vulnerability of entire ecosystems, habitats and species, the wastefulness is all the more untenable.

But the reason for bringing all of you together today is not to dwell on the problem, but to think of solutions to it. A momentum is building to move to a circular economy where virtually nothing is wasted, where we get far more value from resources by designing sustainable products that last and that can be easily repaired, re‑used, re-manufactured, eventually recycled or safely returned to the environment.

Such circular economy systems are essential to delivering the levels of resource efficiency that will enable us to decouple economic growth from resource use and its negative environmental impacts, including deforestation and the degradation of forest ecosystems.

In the coming weeks I will present a package of initiatives that will further pave the way in this direction and help close existing loops. We want to develop an enabling framework for the circular economy in the EU, with measures combining smart regulation, research and innovation, encouraging investment and attracting financing.

EUROPA - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Speech: Fewer forests in our cars

From the Ecologist:

Riches won't make you happy, but a greener economy might

Jules Pretty 30th May 2014

The futuristic Korean science and technology vision envisages an advanced economy driven by clean energy, low carbon use and green growth.

Priority technologies include polymer electrolyte fuel cells, space solar power, integrated water and sewage management, bio-oil replacements, zero-emissions housing, seawater desalinisation, wearable robotics, vertical farms, self-diagnosing materials, automated driving systems, floating cities, smart dust technology and rotating buildings for sharing sunlight and views.

Riches won't make you happy, but a greener economy might - Comment - The Ecologist

From the organisation Responding to Climate Change:

Walmart: Tackling climate change is not a PR stunt

Last updated on 29 May 2014, 8:12 am

Business driving grocery giant’s green ambitions, says VP, revealing new push on energy intensity targets

Walmart has started to roll out a fleet of hybrid trucks to boost its logistics chart in (Pic: Walmart)

By Sophie Yeo in Cancun

Walmart’s fight against climate change is not an elaborate PR stunt, but a sensible business strategy, according to the company’s vice president Manuel Gómez Peña.

Any company that hopes to stay in business in the long term must operate sustainably, said Peña, who leads the environmental programmes of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.

“It’s not something that we’re doing for public relations or it is the nice thing to do. It’s now making business sense,” he said, adding that the impacts of climate change were already having a
n impact on the economy.

Walmart: Tackling climate change is not a PR stunt

No comments: