There were many of ideas that rivalled for my ‘best of the bunch’ but I am going to focus on a single one and develop my thinking for it a bit more. My thoughts are still in their infancy and need much development, and so you will have to forgive me for the myriad of gaps.
The Green Economy - A Club of Nations and Cities
In short this would comprise a club of nations and cities who have signed up to a set of principles and rules but in return get access to a range of environmental financial and social benefits.
The goals would be visionary but simple.
To get into the club, a nation or city must agree to abide by a set of rules. These rules and indicators will be progressive and enforceable over time and if not met, the nation or city will be excluded. There will be a set of pre-requsite requirements to get in such as; not at war; not a dictatorship (will need careful thought to ensure inclusiveness but not so low as to discredit the group)
Nations will need to agree to independent measurement and verification. An index will be developed identifying the best and the worst.
Rewards and access to benefits that will be awarded according to the index of performance and progress to meeting goals.
Economies to strive towards
· 100% renewable energy
· 100% clean water
· All materials and waste to be 100% recyclable or reusable
· All products and materials safe and clean
· Social equity
· Net positive biodiversity
We will need to establish an index and many issues will need to be covered including
· Net Carbon emissions
· % renewables
· % clean water
· Environmental management
· Land ownership and laws
· Political stability
· Gender issues
· Planning laws
To name but a few (Wow this is getting complex!!)
Benefits will come in the form of access to services, technology and preferential finance. Examples of these are follows
· Cheap money, preferential loans
· Emerging technologies
· Investment opportunities
· Education facilities
· Carbon sinks
In some ways this proposal is very similar to some of the other initiatives that are already out there, but differ in two key areas. The first is that all nations and cities would have to produce and work to a carbon action plan that delivers a low carbon and green economy. The second and most important of all, would be the benefits that would accrue including access to ‘green funding’ at preferential rates (quick funds), access to IP and technology and access to broader learning and education. A particular goal of the club would be to foster partnerships across nations and cities.
Thoughts and Comments?
I wrote earlier about the vision that is slowly emerging from the WEF. Today I am going to give you an update on some great ‘how to’ ideas that have emerged from the debate.
Over 240 ideas were listed from the various groups and clusters. These ranged from the broad and the complex, to the detailed and bold.
Some of these ideas were as follows
· A new set of world values that animate our deepest principles
· A new world council for children and the young (50% of world population is under 25 years)
· Universal flu vaccinations
· 1/6 of world’s population have daily access to food less than the volume of a small cup, so food for all especially those under 2yrs
· Health and well being index by nation
· Keep our present institutions, but change teir rules of engagement (ie they must adopt world vision)
· A new security agenda
· Nationwide risk index
· Countries to insure against policy risk related to ‘green projects’
· Explanation of the benefits of immigration (both ways)
· Mass communication campaign to galvanise action at community and people
· Regular report on social competitiveness, social innovation, social enterprise
· Centre to promote health and wellbeing ( not just medicine)
· Eliminate all subsidies on fossil fuels (at moment fossil fuels enjoy a $150bn subsidy and renewables only $60bn. In India the government subsidises kerosene to tune of 410bn, thus should be changed to ensure renewables- more democratic)
· Low growth plans to be adopted by all countries and these to be backed up by a comprehensive measurement, reward and verification programme)
· SEFTA – Sustainable energy free trade association where all taxes for green solutions are dropped and all externalities are priced
· Quick start fund for 3 objectives, forestry and biodiversity protection, climate adaption fund, private-public finance of emerging technologies
· Certification for low carbon products to provide consumer choice
I will write more tomorrow about some specific plans for the development of what I see as the most exciting idea - The Green Economy.
I have just returned from the World Economic Forum today and hot from the cauldron of discussion I bring you the latest news.
I have to be honest with you that the news is mixed. Here’s my summary from the opening statements from today’s closing session
Our world is in crisis !; our values are void, risk has become the new norm, certainty has deserted us, our governance inadequate, our institutions has failed us and we are lurch into an age where food, fuel and land is too little and our emissions too great!
And yet out of this cauldron of bad news there is hope and reasons to be optimisitic
The first piece of good news is that I can say at least our governmental, institutional and business leaders are joined in recognising that there is a problem, that it is both systemic and will need extraordinary and visionary leadership and cross nation collaboration to solve.
The second piece of news is that an inlking of a new world vision is emerging. Some of the headlines from the discussions include the following.
· New a Global Architecture for governance and institutions
· Sustainable consumption (less about having and more about being)
· Mobilisation of communities in taking action
· Quantum leap in data sharing and collaboration
· Creation of the ‘Green economy’ powered by renewable energy
· Freedom of information and technology
· Agenda through consensus
· Long term investment into new infrastructure
· New vision for building a sustainable world
· Protection of our biodiversity and forestry
· Food for all
· Fair process, no corruption
I know this is not yet a world vision, but hey we only had 1.5 days! More detail in my next blog.
Guardian Yesterday , Jackie Asley (Let’s tune in again 16.11.09) was spot on. Like her, I am fed up with the continuous political fighting over details and performance. What we need as we move towards next year’s election is the development of the BIG VISION, supported by BIG IDEAS , allowing us that all important BIG DEBATE.
As an environmental designer and I know that without a concept properly thought through from the start, it is almost impossible to deliver a holistic solution; as the design progresses, details will keep on cropping up and without that big picture and philosophy, they become impossible to solve and you are left with a disconnected mish-mash!
What we need is a framework that is all inclusive and will allow decisions on all issues to be made within a context.
This is lacking at the moment, but it does seem that out of the ashes of the banking crisis, the stuttering diplomacy of Copenhagen, and the present political debate that one is beginning to emerge that is both global and local.
The strands that are emerging;-
The Climate Deal –The poorer nations are demanding financial support from those that have polluted. There is also a growing recognition that reductions solutions can only be delivered by engaging society at a local level and by changing culture.
Big Society – David Cameron’s ideas around Big Society rather than big government, one that empowers ‘people’.
Tobin Tax – Gordon Brown (and others) talks about a tax on all transactions that should be shared equally between the state and within a climate deal.
Energy Strategy – Ed Miliband talking about fast tracking planning on new energy infrastructure.
Somewhere amongst this lot it seems that there is the potential to galvanise local action and divest responsibility whilst finding a more equitable means of distributing wealth for the good of the planet and its people as a whole.
I do not want to play on old clichés and nor do I want to propagate any notion of communism, but somehow all of these things need to come together if we are to find a solution that meets local needs whilst delivering on the BIG PICTURE.
Anyway, thanks to Jackie for kicking off the debate-but how do we keep it going?
Earlier this year, concerned about my growing family’s impact on the environment, I was engrossed in the nappy debate; disposables or reusables? (see blog) Finally, with a little help from my GreenParent.com friends, I opted for second hand reusable nappies, washing at 40 degC and line drying. Unfortunately, my experiment did not last very long as the hassle of handling and washing proved too much for us. Yes I feel bad, but one has to be real and recognise one’s practical limits – Reusable nappies are not for us – sorry!
But all is not lost and there is hope on the horizon offered in the form of Knowaste.
Knowaste is a Canadian company which potentially provides an alternative and acceptable solution. The company is providing the UK’s first absorbent hygiene product recycling facility which will not only recycle an estimated 750,000 tonnes of nappy waste produced every year in the UK, but also provide a treatment system for the large quantities of feminine hygiene products (a market in the UK worth £298m a year) and the ever growing adult incontinence pad market.
The first Knowaste plant will open in West Bromwich in mid 2010 for collections from the Birmingham area with four other plants are planned by 2014 for Manchester, Liverpool and London.
The Birmingham plant alone will prevent 36,000t of nappy waste, feminine hygiene products and adult incontinence pads from going to landfill each year with the ‘waste’ being reused to produce resalable, clean and hygienic sterile plastics and an energy source capable of fuelling the plant, with excess energy sold to the national grid.
Not wanting to take their word for it, dcarbon8 are currently carrying out a full LCA according to ISO 14044 and working to measure the environmental impacts of the treatment of the waste, in comparison to other forms of waste disposal for UK operations.
But I understand for the dc8 team that Knowaste is not stopping there as they have recently launched a new company called SmallPlant Building Products which plans to use the plastic recovered from the recycling plant to manufacture roofing tiles and systems. Who would have thought that nappies would end up on your roof!!
Is it an good solution, is it ‘acceptable’. Well we will find out and I will publish the data whatever the answer but on the face of it, they could provide an option to the increasing number of parents, like me, who really do care about how nappies are disposed of BUT cannot or are unable to cope with the real practicalities of dealing with the reusable nappy.
A fat green cat has emerged in the world of scrap. The Sunday Times reports that last year the boss of Britain’s biggest scrap metal merchant, Philip Sheppard, paid himself a whacking £9m in salary and bonus. His firm European Metal Recycling (EMR) has benefited from an underlying sales rise of 25% over the past 12 months. ERM’s pre-tax profits were £63m. More recently, they have secured £17m funding to build a plastics recycling plant with JV partner MBA Polymers. The plant will open next year with capacity to process 80,000t per year.
Their web site looks great and they have a number of community pledges including
. Our community relations programme includes:
- By providing funding to support local authority recycling projects
- By pledging money to a community foundation project, which works to reach people from deprived and socially excluded backgrounds
- By buying the fishing rights to rivers running next to our depots and setting up angling clubs for local residents and employees
- By volunteering financial support and practical help to re-mediate local environmental problems
- By sponsoring photographers and artists to convey their impressions of the recycling industry to the wider world
I think that this is all good news and shows that green does pay although a little part of me is concerned about the level of payout and I guess I would feel a lot better if I knew more about the communities projects you are supporting and the actual funds you are investing.
But well done Philip and the board anyway.and I look forward to hearing more details (and numbers) about some of the good environmental causes that you are putting your well earned millions towards.
10th October 2009
Larry Elliott writing in the Guardian yesterday reports that Gordon Brown is proposing a worldwide tax on banking transactions (The Torbin Tax) to fund not only the repayment of the debt that the banks have got us all in, but also to fund green technology transfer to help developing nations meet the challenges of a low carbon world.
The issues are real and chilling ( must see video) as reported on 22nd October this year and we are looking at a 4degC rise in world temperatures if we do nothing. Brown’s argument is bold and goes to the heart of the debate and why developing (poorer) nations are losing patience; the richer nations have spent years polluting and they now expect the poorer nations to restrict growth and foot the bill, this they say is unfair!
I find it hard to disagree with their argument, not least because low carbon technologies cost more and given the present financial crisis, poorer nations cannot afford them. It seems only right that we, the richer nations, should share the burden of this cost.
Elliott goes on to argue that the only pragmatic answer is clean coal, given that there is abundant supply of it, and he argues for technology transfer for its implementation. For me this misses the point. Yes coal may be pragmatic, but it is still worse than other solutions and any transfer of technology MUST include demand side reduction solutions both at a unit and city scale. New urban solutions for our growing cities that fundamentally re-look at how we live our lives and how we use energy.
If all we do is feed new development with slightly cleaner solutions, then we end up with the same old problems. We must fix the source of our problem and in parallel with providing solutions.
And so I bring you back to the need for Positive Infrastructure and Planet Positive Solutions both issues that we will debating during my upcoming visit to the WEF in Dubai next week.
Finally, I am beginning to have doubts about where my vote is going next year (UK elections). I was pretty much set on David Cameron and the conservatives, but given his latest bull*%$t on europe and Brown’s strong position and big ideas on issues such as these, I am truly beginning to waiver. My question is that given the enormity of the world problems who will be better placed at solving them; a Conservative governement fighting on the fringes of the EU or Labour from within its heart? - David, for goodness sake, please get your party’s act together or you just might blow it!
According to the today’s Guardian (page 29), Sainbury’s are committing switching all of their fridge technology away from F-gas to CO2 refrigerant reducing their global warming impact considerably. Good move guys, and I know that this is not the only thing you are doing as I know we are working with you to reduce the embodied carbon in your supply chain.
Not to take away from the praise that you should receive, on the same page the Guardian also writes that ‘Miliband unveils plans to fast-track (nuclear) reactors’. The irony should not be lost on anyone; if we had only got our act together, then we would not know need to be considering these things!!
We are going live this week with our new home page. Looking fantastic, just awaiting final design tweaks and we will be up and running.
Central to the new site is our video library for our 2020 Vision campaign. We have spent the past 3 months collecting short video statements from over 90 people representing all walks of life. From school kids to the leaders of political parties, and from environmental activists to company chairman. They have each been asked to provide us with their ‘positive view’ on why we should be taking action against global warming. This is not a negative message, rather a positive and worthwhile goal that we should all be working towards.
We have an amazing collection individuals including Nick Clegg (Lib Dem Leader), Jonathan Porritt ( Environemtal activist) and even The Sons of Soul band.
I asked one of my sons for his vision over the weekend and he did a bit of searching on the net and having discovered that livestock are responsible for over 18% of global emissions came up with the image below as a vision for the future of farming!!!
i will let you all know when we are up and running so that you can contribute your own vision.
The news out of the USA yesterday is not good. The US administration has said that there is now not enough time to get a binding agreement through congress - Guardian 05.11.09. This is bad news for us all and a refelction of the uphill battle that still has to be fought to get this through.
”We have to be honest in the process and deal with the realities that we don’t have time in these four weeks to put the language together and flesh out every crossed t and dotted i of a treaty,” said John Kerry, who chairs the Senate foreign relations committee.
In a show of unity that suprised everyone, the African nations staged a mini-coup and demanded immediate action by the Rich Nations to set real targets complaining that rich nations’ carbon cuts were far too small to avoid catastrophic climate change, and refused to participate until more was done. The move forced the UN to abandon several sessions and reschedule others to give rich countries more time to debate emissions cuts. Countries have agreed to devote 60% of the remaining time to those discussions. Link
So it is all happening and the political heat is rising about time too! Let’s hope that we actually get some thing that we can all work towards!