Overview of the climate prosperity movement (Hazel Henderson) 

7 de agosto de 2009 at 16:13 Deixe um comentário

Hazel Henderson enviou, a nosso pedido, um memo sobre o leque de ações e de discussões programadas e em desenvolvimento no planeta, em convergência com os nossos propósitos. Trata-se de um documento curto (5 páginas) em inglês, muito denso em termos de referências para nos situarmos na discussão global. Hazel insiste na ligação entre os desafios ambientais e as dinâmicas de emprego, na linha dos “green jobs” do Global Green New Deal, e do chamado “climate prospertiy”. Trata-se de sair da dicotomia que é frequentemente utilizada, de que teríamos de escolhar entre proteção ambiental e crescimento econômico, o que é uma forma de sugerir que a preocupação ambiental trava o dinamismo econômico e a geração de empregos. Aliás, investir em energia sustentável gera muito mais emprego do que simplesmente extrair petróleo.
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Por Hazel Henderson, agosto de 2009

Brazil has been a world leader for many decades in sustainable, green development, renewable energy and resource uses.
So, I offer this report with great humility.

The Climate Prosperity movement is now worldwide and goes by many names: the Global Green New Deal, the Green Economy Initiative, the Climate Prosperity Alliance, Transition Towns, One Planet, Green Jobs, Green for All, “green stimulus,” the Global Marshall Plan, the Post-Carbon Society, the State of the World Forum, the Phoenix Economy, Breaking the Climate Deadlock, sustainable societies, as well as the hundreds of thousands of groups in over a hundred countries calling for new forms of sustainable livelihoods in their own languages. So far, these groups focusing on Climate Prosperity strategies have not always linked up with each other, or the even greater number of groups dissecting the global financial crises. NGOs and governments are devising responses to protect the most vulnerable populations: women, children, the poor and the least-developed countries from its cruel impacts.(1) Now it is time to connect all these groups working on essentially the same interlinked crises.

All this new activism is a positive response to the twin crises in finance and the world’s climate. Both crises are closely related to the dying fossilized paradigm of “economism” and its deadly addiction to continuous economic growth measured in money, whatever the social and environmental costs.(2) The disparate social protest movements of the past 30 years began coming together over the internet and at the World Social Forums, launched in Porto Alegre, Brasil in 1999. Today, they are coalescing over these ever-accumulating threats to life on earth, now culminating in global climate disruption. The United Nations joined with civil society in calling the financial and climate crises an opportunity to transition to fairer, cleaner, more sustainable forms of human development. (3)

Ever since the UN’s climate agreements in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, the evidence from the scientific community of this mega-threat to our collective survival has grown stronger and more ominous.(4) The biggest per capita polluter, the USA, played an obstructive role, imposing its own version of the economism paradigm: market fundamentalism. While refusing to sign the Kyoto protocols, the USA and some of its misguided environmental policy makers forced their “market-based” approaches on to the successive UN climate conferences. Their idea of capping carbon emissions was sensible enough, using government targets and regulating continuous reductions. But instead of backing enforcement of carbon caps and shifting tax burdens from incomes and payrolls to taxes on carbon and all other pollution and waste,(5) the US “market fundamentalists” demanded that “allowances” to continue emitting carbon be given to polluters. These “rights” they demanded should also be traded on commodity exchanges, along with other derivatives – like the credit default swaps that caused such havoc in financial markets. Widespread public objections forced governments to agree to auction pollution allowances, but fossil fuel lobbies have kept their give-aways.(6) INTERPOL, the UN crime-fighting agency, warned of carbon fraud and that carbon-trading could become the white collar crime of the future (www.heatisonline.org).

Thus the climate debate became captive not only to the political power of fossil fuel sectors, oil, coal, gas and all their dependent industries, autos, chemicals, plastics, agribusiness and pharmaceuticals, but also to bankers, stock market traders and commodity brokers who saw carbon as a new trillion dollar “asset class” and profit opportunity.(7) The results have been disastrous. Powerful industrial groups lobbied governments for more free “allowances” and “offsets” (paying for dubious “green” projects overseas in exchange for continuing polluting).(8) They sold their permits, often reaping windfall profits. The “cap and trade” emissions schemes in Europe created proliferating bureaucracies with caps on emissions easily lifted by lobbyists.(9) Ironically, the very financial planners who caused the global financial crisis now see carbon trading as their next big profit source.(10) Worse, carbon markets failed to reduce carbon emissions, which are still steadily rising. The UN conferences on climate threats became ever gloomier, from Bali to Poznan, Poland. The Copenhagen conference in December 2009 is seen by all the parties as a tipping point.

This debate as well as on how to alleviate the impacts of the financial meltdown and how to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus of 2002 were all forced into the narrow calculus of costs in money terms. Economic methods usually favor quantifying costs to incumbent sectors and existing institutions, rather than estimating savings, benefits and revenues from new ways of doing business, new technologies and social policies. For example the climate debate focuses on GDP growth “losses.” Critiques of GDP-measured growth, including my own over the past 30 years, are finally gaining traction with alternatives from the New Economics Foundation (11) in Britain and mine in the USA with the Calvert Group (12) making headway with the accounting profession and at the European Parliament’s Beyond GDP Conference in 2007.(13,14) Yet, costs of bailing out Wall Street firms are deemed necessary to “restore” the financial system, while investing in our children’s health and education for a prosperous future are deemed “too expensive.”

Focusing on carbon emissions in the obsolete fossil-fueled sectors still trumps quantifying the uncounted savings, benefits and avoided costs of investing in a global transition to the green post-carbon economy based on energy efficiency, wind, solar, ocean and geothermal sources. Guy Dauncey, author of Stormy Weather adds up all the estimates of savings so far at $1.7 trillion annually in the USA alone. McKinsey & Company finds that a $520 billion investment in energy efficiency would yield $1.2trillion by 2020 and reduce US demand by 23%.(15) Meanwhile, financing for meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals is still viewed as a cost when in reality, such finance belongs in the investment category. The “rearview mirror” economism calculations must no longer dominate the financial and climate debates – spreading increasing gloom and fear while governments pour trillions into trying to restore the broken status quo.(16)

Meanwhile, the greener, sustainable sectors are still growing worldwide, as renewable energy investments by 2008 exceeded investments in coal power plants.(17) The grassroots movements for sustainability, from the World Social Forum to the new wellbeing and quality of life indicators to replace GNP, are growing as well. The Obama administration in the USA and the General Assembly of the United Nations grasped the potential of the shift to the green, sustainable sectors worldwide.(18) The rigid G-7 and G-20 summits gave ground to the G-192 as all the member countries of the UN came together in New York in June 2009, adopted the Stiglitz Commission Report (19) and declared their support for the new just, green, sustainable global economy led by UNEP, UNDP and the ILO.(20) Eighteen other UN agencies also support what is now called the Global Green New Deal.(21) All now see the meltdown of the global financial casino and the climate crisis as a chance to create a new, more just, green economy promoted for decades by civil society.(22) Finally, the world can put economism in its place and downsize finance to its limited role facilitating real production. An efficient financial sector should constitute less than 10% of a country’s GDP. In Britain and the USA, finance had metastasized to 25% of GDP and become predators on the real economy. As our Chinese friends say, “Markets and money are good servants but bad masters.” Thirty-four percent of China’s stimulus package and 81% of South Korea’s are focused on investing in solar, wind and green economic growth.(23) UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon praised China’s President Hu Jintao for these green economy initiatives.(24)

The spectacle of the US and other central banks printing money on TV helped raise public awareness that money is not real wealth but just a clever invention of humans to track and keep score of their transactions and uses of natural resources. The many alternative, de-centralized barter trading exchanges, such as Craigslist, Freecycle, Prosper and Zopa, that facilitate sharing, recycling, charitable donating and peer-to-peer lending as well as local currencies and LETS systems are flourishing. Today information-based trading has illustrated that money is just one form of information and that we don’t need Wall Street, the City or any other “financial centers” that have now imploded anyway. These 20th century “too big to fail” monsters came to believe that they were “providers of capital” rather than mere intermediaries connecting savers with borrowers using money issued by banks out of thin air.

This new understanding that money is simply one form of information is helping people realize that, of course, there is enough money to invest in our common future. Hundreds of cities around the world, including in Brasil, have issued local currencies to link unemployed workers with needed jobs. The real constraint has never been money, but rather limited vision and faulty economics. Human societies have a ten-year window to install a post-carbon, global economy to replace the collapsed global casino. Thus, time is the chief constraint – not money. The Climate Prosperity movement is opposed by the coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy companies – who are still fighting desperate rearguard actions through their lobbying and false advertising campaigns. New studies show that nuclear energy is the most expensive, water-wasting, inefficient, but it is still heavily subsidized. Most developing countries can never afford nuclear energy and unlikely to be able to afford much coal or oil-fired electricity. Solar, wind, geothermal and small-scale hydro and biomass are their most realistic options.

Joining the Climate Prosperity movement are the ranks of socially responsible investors, pension funds, charitable endowments and “green” bankers, many unions and NGOs, including WWF, which help fund many climate investment studies. Tomorrow’s Company, CERES and the UN Principles of Responsible Investing all have issued reports on investing in green companies. All of this and daily news is reported at http://www.ethicalmarkets.com from sources like New Energy News, Responsible Investor, New Energy World Network, Cleantech, CleanEdge, GreenBiz, Greener Computing, Environment and Finance, Green Chip Review, Alt Assets, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Green Budget News, Germany, and others from China, India and Brasil.

The last piece of the puzzle to achieve Climate Prosperity within the ten-year window limiting temperature rise to below 2˚ centigrade are the climate prosperity bonds. Socially responsible retail investors are now joining forces with the Green Economy Initiative of UNDP, UNEP and the ILO and the eighteen other UN departments and many government agencies.

The new global effort to fund Climate Prosperity, would invest $10 trillion over the next ten years and plans to double installed renewable energy and efficiency savings each year. This $10 trillion is less that the $14 trillion spent in the US on Wall Street and other bailouts so far (actual liability is now estimated at $23.7 trillion by the TARP Special Inspector at www.sigtarp.gov). The proposed $10 trillion investment in Climate Prosperity is less than 10% of the $120 trillion of assets in pension funds for beneficiaries’ future security. Today, climate change is a threat to them and all humanity’s future security. The British government now estimates the “green” market at £3 trillion worldwide.(25) What better plan is there than to invest these pensions’ assets now in securing their future in a safe, sustainable green economy? Climate Prosperity bonds with governments’ guarantees and laddered maturities are geared to the payouts from energy efficiency (the quickest payback) and to expanded efficiencies-of-scale in wind, geothermal and solar. Such bonds will be attractive to pension fund asset managers as outlined in the forthcoming computer model by Climate Risk, Pty of Sydney, Australia, and the Network for Sustainable Financial Markets. The Breaking the Climate Deadlock Plan of The Climate Group calls for $1 trillion to achieve a 70% reduction in emissions by 2020 – largely through energy efficiency. The DESERTEC group of 12 European companies led by Munich Re and ABB plans to invest €450 billion in solar-thermal power plants across North Africa to provide 15% of Europe’s electricity via DC transmission lines under the Mediterranean.(26) During this ten-year rollout of the new low-carbon economy globally, coal and oil, as well as nuclear, will become even more costly and less competitive (even without accounting for their external costs or the price of carbon).(27) The faulty logic of economism which sees the problem as a “shortage of money” is exposed by the Climate Prosperity movement which sees the payback on that $10 trillion after 10 years as approximately $30 trillion. This illustrates that the real constraint is time, not money. After wasting decades, we humans must act now.

The Climate Prosperity movement, together with many groups leading in widening awareness, planetary citizenship and perennial wisdom from indigenous peoples and all faith traditions is succeeding in changing the paradigm! From the dismal economism, money-based scarcity and fear to a vision of abundance through sharing, caring, volunteerism and community revitalization, all built on using the energy freely available from sun, wind, oceans and respect for the Earth and all life. The 16 Principles of the Earth Charter are now endorsed by thousands of cities, companies and NGOs (www.earthcharter.org). Copenhagen can host the positive tipping point: a worldwide critical mass of global citizens and their rising eco-aware culture in the emerging information-rich Solar Age.

Hazel Henderson, president of Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brasil), authored The Politics of the Solar Age in 1981 and continues her practical visioning in Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006) and the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators, updated regularly at http://www.calvert-henderson.com. She can be reached at http://www.hazelhenderson.com.

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(1) See for example, ECLAC, INSTRAW, UNIFEM, Doha, Financing for Development, Monterrey Consensus, Rethinking Bretton Woods, World Social Forum, ITUC
(2) New York Times, Hazel Henderson, “Economists versus Ecologist” 1971; Financial Analysts Journal, 1973.
(3) UN General Assembly Meeting, June 24-26, 2009
(4) IPCC, UN 2009, and Pew Center, Science Brief, June 2009
(5) Christian Science Monitor, Hazel Henderson, “Introduce ‘Green’ Tax” 1990
(6) Carbon Positive, “US Carbon Bill a Boon for World Offsets Markets,” July 8, 2009, www.carbonpositive.net
(7)The Economist, July 4, 2009, p. 24; Business Week, “How Banks Will Pounce on Carbon Trading,” June 8, 2009, p. 51
(8) Interpol
(9) The Economist, “Cap and Trade with Handouts and Loopholes,” May 23, 2009, pp 33-34
(10) Institutional Investor, “The Promise of Eco,” July-August, 2009
(11) www.neweconomics.org
(12) www.calvert-henderson.com
(13) www.beyond-gdp.eu
(14) Journal of the Society of Charted Accountants of England and Wales, F. Capra and H. Henderson, “Qualitative Growth,” forthcoming, November 2009
(15) Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the US Economy McKinsey Report, July 2009
(16) Hazel Henderson, Re-Designing Money Systems to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Accelerate the Growing Green Economy, presented to the Green Economy Initiative Conference, UNEP, Geneva, Dec. 1, 2008
(17) REN 21
(18) Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, www.recovery.gov
(19) Preliminary Draft of the Full Report of the Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, UN General Assembly, March 21, 2009
(20) www.unep.org and www.unepfi.org
(21) UN General Assembly
(22) www.helio.org
(23) The Economist, “Green Shoots,” April 3, 2009
(24) Environmental News Service, July 28, 2009, www.ens-newswire.com
(25) The Economist, July 18, 2009, pp. 54-55
(26) DESERTEC
(27) Climate Risk Pty

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