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The Great Transition
Policy news & blueprints for the transition to a new Sustainable and Social Economy
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Could America’s New Energy Abundance Spark a Trans-Atlantic Environmental Race to the Bottom?

Could America’s New Energy Abundance Spark a Trans-Atlantic Environmental Race to the Bottom? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

“Affordable energy,” as I explained in detail here, has always been a myth. Low end-user prices for energy are “affordable” only in the sense that they shift the cost to pollution victims. Far from reducing total costs, the shift is a negative-sum game: the winners gain less than the losses suffered by those who are harmed.

The alternative would be a race to the top, in which all the major trading countries would raise energy prices to an appropriate level. Doing so in a coordinated fashion would not greatly disturb existing competitive relationships. Some sectors of the U.S. economy, like those based on gas and renewables, would gain, although coal users and exporters would probably suffer.

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Great article in Economonitor on how cheap energy in the States is leading to a race to the bottom. The choice should be for a race to the top, incorporating societal costs of energy into the big picture.

 

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Valuing Nature: Democracy or economics?

"... environmental sustainability will not be served by introducing or extending market instruments and norms to various areas of society, but quite the reverse. It would be better served by expanding and supporting the public sphere – both procedurally and substantively."

 

Another must-read article from the OpenDemocracy web site explaining why sustainability cannot be attained by putting a market value on natural capital and the economic "commons".

 

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Poor Richard's comment, May 21, 2012 5:59 AM
Much addo about very little. In a nutshell, without all the rhetoric, the proposed solution is reducing the scope of markets and "expanding and supporting the public sphere – both procedurally and substantively." Fine. What that really means is there is no unitary, all-encompassing market, i.e. certain things aren't on the auction block. Markets shall have circumscribed scope or boundaries, including appropriate regulation and no more archaic "externality" games. But the notion that *everything* should evolve from markets toward something else is absurd. Regulated markets would be natural and desirable even within many local commons. An agricultural land trust might want a produce market, and why not? Can we have more common sense and less high-toned new-agey stuff?
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New Friends of the Earth report: World Bank Overseeing Global Land Grab

New Friends of the Earth report: World Bank Overseeing Global Land Grab | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"The World Bank continues to facilitate land-grabbing in poor and developing countries around the world, according to new research released here on Monday."

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Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem, warns Lloyd's of London

Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem, warns Lloyd's of London | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Insurance market joins environmentalists in highlighting risks of drilling in fragile region as $100bn investment is predicted...

 

Will oil companies take heed? No chance, I am afraid.

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Rebuilding the dream: jobs for the environment

Rebuilding the dream: jobs for the environment | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"We seem to forget that everything that is good for the environment is a job. Solar panels don’t put themselves up. Wind turbines don’t manufacture themselves. Houses don’t retrofit themselves and put in their own new boilers and furnaces and better-fitting windows and doors. Advanced biofuel crops don’t plant themselves. Community gardens don’t tend themselves. Farmers’ markets don’t run themselves. Every single thing that is good for the environment is actually a job, a contract, or an entrepreneurial opportunity."

 

Excellent analysis on the Climate Progress blog from the new book of the White House's former green jobs advisor Van Jones.

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Is Water a Barrier to a Low-Carbon Energy Future?

Is Water a Barrier to a Low-Carbon Energy Future? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Ask an expert on clean tech what the largest barriers to a low carbon energy future are, and chances are they will list higher technology costs, policy barriers, or the need for new infrastructure to accommodate novel energy sources.But according to a set of expert panelists speaking at the MIT Energy Conference in Boston this Saturday, we're forgetting a big one: water.
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Spain's Green Groups Slam Rollback of Conservation Policies

"Spain's new conservative government has announced changes in environmental policy that are a significant step backwards for environmental protection in the country, provoking an immediate, harsh reaction from the opposition and civil society."

 

For years we have heard from political leaders that economy and ecology should walk hand in hand, but when crisis hits, the environment is clearly left behind. In times where we need a transformational new "green" economy, the brown economy is back with a vengeance.

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Nachhaltigkeit: Schluss mit der Harmonie!

Nachhaltigkeit: Schluss mit der Harmonie! | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Umweltschutz und Wirtschaftswachstum konkurrieren eben doch – aber das wird oft verschwiegen. Es bedarf einer ehrlichen Diskussion über grünes Wachstum und Gerechtigkeit.

 

Brilliant article in Germany's Die Zeit: forget about the so-called harmony between economic growth and the environment. The current concept of sustainable development has become an enemy of ecological stability.

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WWF's alarm bell: economic bail-out plans hurt sustainability transition

WWF's alarm bell: economic bail-out plans hurt sustainability transition | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

WWF International has written letters to the European Commission and several international institutions warning that current "solutions" to the economic and financial crisis are detrimental to the long-term sustainability agenda for the planet.

 

"the crisis, in addition to being grounded in mismanagement of national finances, is a reflection of a deficient economic development model built on overconsumption and a steadily increasing ecological deficit and natural resource overexploitation".

 

Great press release - must-read for anyone with a passion for the Great Transition.

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The Unsustainable Political Deficiencies of Environmentalism

The Unsustainable Political Deficiencies of Environmentalism | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The environmental movement won the ideological battle with the growth of awareness on climate change.

 

"But the scientific legitimacy of environmentalists' claims and demands does not translate into political influence when it comes to decision-making time."

 

Good analysis in IPS News. Green NGOs will need to rethink their strategies in 2012. Time for new radicalism? And how to connect to the world-wide Occupy movement?

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Danish environment and energy priorities for EU Presidency

Council of the EU webcast on the presentation by two Danish ministers of their priorities for climate, energy and environment.

 

Positive: minister Auken mentions the interconnectedness between the financial crisis and the sustainability crisis. Negative: the usual fairytale answers of "green growth" and "decoupling". Worth viewing anyway.

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Monbiot on nuclear: hard-hitting attack on green movement

Monbiot on nuclear: hard-hitting attack on green movement | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"This year the environmental movement to which I belong has done more harm to the planet’s living systems than climate change deniers have ever achieved."

 

UK top journalist George Monbiot is very harsh in his critique of the anti-nuclear movement in Europe.

 

"Anti-nuclear campaigners have generated as much mumbo-jumbo as creationists, anti-vaccine scaremongers, homeopaths and climate change deniers. In all cases, the scientific process has been thrown into reverse: people have begun with their conclusions, then frantically sought evidence to support them."

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Battle lines drawn ahead of 2013 'Year of Air'

Battle lines drawn ahead of 2013 'Year of Air' | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik wants 2013 to be the “Year of Air” and is pushing for stronger air quality laws across the European Union. But with many member states failing to enforce current rules, the commissioner could face an uphill battle." (Source: EurActiv)

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UK Environmental Audit Committee publishes report on Protecting the Arctic

UK Environmental Audit Committee publishes report on Protecting the Arctic | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

The UK's Parliamentary committee calls for a halt to oil drilling in the Arctic until some very strict rules are in place.

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New report: Arctic Opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North

"Rapid and disruptive change in the Arctic environment presents uneven prospects for investment and economic development. All across the Arctic, changes in climate will create new vulnerabilities for infrastructure and present new design challenges."

 

Excellent new report on the challenges in the Arctic by UK think tank Chatham House.

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6 Scary Extreme Energy Sources Being Tapped to Fuel the Post Peak Oil Economy

6 Scary Extreme Energy Sources Being Tapped to Fuel the Post Peak Oil Economy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Think of this as taking fracking to the next level so that we can continue to speed along on our highway to hell -- peak oil, and the earth, be damned.
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The Other Arab Spring

The Other Arab Spring | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Environmental pressures, not just political and economic ones, stirred change in the Mideast.

 

Thomas Friedman makes the connection between environmental degradation in the Middle East and the Arab uprisings.

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Earth Hour dilemma: When the 'like' button harms the planet

Earth Hour dilemma: When the 'like' button harms the planet | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
While environmentalist groups have benefited from social networking, keeping the Web working emits a lot of CO2.

 

Very interesting story about the contradictions of environmental online campaigning.

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Pollution the big barrier to freer trade in rare earths

Tackling pollution, not freeing up trade, is regarded as the solution to a global shortage of rare earths, the metals that are the building blocks of the 21st century.

 

Interesting analysis of the rare earths trade conflict.

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Potočnik: More legislative power, but no money for environment | EurActiv

Potočnik: More legislative power, but no money for environment | EurActiv | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Compared to other policy areas, environment still remains the Cinderella of the European budget, where allocations amount to just over €2 billion compared to research which gets more than €50 billion for the FP7. Negotiations on the next EU budget 2014-2020 will be crucial, said Commissioner Janez Potočnik in an interview with EurActiv Slovakia.
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Weighing the Environmental Costs of Economic Recovery

Weighing the Environmental Costs of Economic Recovery | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

Another worrying article based on the GreenBiz State of Green Business report showing that sustainability trends have gone in reverse as a result of the economic recession.

 

"For the first time we have made no improvement in our rate of decarbonization. We have in fact increased the carbon intensity of growth. The economic recovery, where it has occurred, has been dirty.” (Source: Forbes)

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Spaceship Earth: A new view of environmentalism

Spaceship Earth: A new view of environmentalism | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Spaceship Earth is a metaphor for a new way of looking at Earth — as a complex system that must be aggressively managed.

 

Interesting but questionable article in the Washington Post which redefines the Spaceship Earth narrative to make the case for a more interventionist approach to dealing with our planetary crisis.

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EU Environment Ministers put lobbying interest first

The Environment Council caves in to lobbying interests and waters down Commission proposals for biodiversity and resource efficiency, confirming again that this is not the European Union we should continue defending.

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Naomi Klein's Inconvenient Climate Conclusions

Naomi Klein's Inconvenient Climate Conclusions | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
A critic of capitalism argues that climate progress can only come through a global economic reboot.

 

The NY Times Dot Earth blog has an interesting discussion between Naomi Klein and Andrew Revkin.

 

Klein makes a very convincing case about the lack of courage of the environmental movement to confront the real implications of our sustainability crisis (of which climate is the most important but only one dimension).

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Is the European Union Missing Another Window of Opportunity for Arctic Energy Resources?

Is the European Union Missing Another Window of Opportunity for Arctic Energy Resources? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"The current developments in the Barents Sea can be regarded as both a temporal and structural “window of opportunity” for the development of a privileged energy partnership between the EU and Norway, with obvious advantages for the EU."

 

This interesting article on the Arctic Institute web site makes the case for increased cooperation between Norway and the EU concerning energy and resource policies for the Arctic.

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