OECD Wants International Action Against Climate Change

One of the most influential international economic is calling for a bigger push to combat climate change. The Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Angel Gurría, gave a talk this week (above) advocating for greater international effort to reach a sustainable economy in regards to the environment. He argued that we need to think beyond national policy agendas in order to curb global emissions and reduce climate risks.

It’s fantastic to see a conservative organization like the OECD openly calling for nations around the world to get one board with an economy that doesn’t kill the planet.

Mr Gurria said the risks of stranded communities as well as of stranded assets would increase if policy action was delayed. While rapid advances in technology would continue to drive the transformation, he said, “the pace and scale of the transformation required to meet the Paris goals cannot be achieved without the positive feedbacks between strong government policies and the transformative potential of non-state actors.”

Mr Gurrria said economic conditions in many countries provide a window of opportunity to take action now to boost growth and investment that will drive the transition to a prosperous and inclusive low-emissions, resilient future. Ambitious climate policy is simply good policy, he said, adding that: “Governments should move faster to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which still amount to around half a trillion dollars a year”.

Read more.

Nuclear Weapon Ban Signed at UN

Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to humanity. If they are used in violence it is likely that the planet would enter a period of nuclear winter – meaning that if you don’t die in the initial waves of explosions you’ll die from starvation. Not a good thing to think about.

Thankfully, yesterday 122 members of the United Nations signed a treaty committing them to a ban on nukes. Countries like the USA, France, and other nuke-loving countries didn’t sign it, still it sends a clear message: the rest of the world doesn’t want anybody to use nuclear weapons. The timing of the signing is quite symbolic given what Trump said during his speech at the UN earlier this week.

“The Treaty is an important step towards the universally-held goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. It is my hope that it will reinvigorate global efforts to achieve it,” he added, acknowledging the contributions made by civil society and the hibakusha – the atomic bomb survivors.

At the same time, Mr. Guterres, highlighted the difficult road ahead by recalling that there remain some 15,000 nuclear weapons in existence. “We cannot allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children’s future,” he said.

Read more.

Capitalism Will End, Celebrate What Comes Next

beer

The damage that wealthy bankers did to the economy back in 2007/08 is still with us, and that has led to a whole generation questioning the validity of modern hyper-capitalism. That same germination witness ongoing environmental destruction and the erosion of labour rights (amongst a litany of other ills) all for the goal of getting more profit. The rejection of the prevailing thought has caused a few people to be scared of the change to come.

Don’t be afraid of the future, embrace it. Be part of what you want to see come true by examining what’s to come through exploration of what already is.

Fortunately, there is already a wealth of language and ideas out there that stretch well beyond these dusty old binaries. They are driven by a hugely diverse community of thinkers, innovators, and practitioners. There are organizations like the P2P (Peer to Peer) Foundation, Evonomics, The Next System Project, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking reimagining the global economy. The proposed models are even more varied: from complexity, to post-growth, de-growth, land-based, regenerative, circular, and even the deliciously named donut economics.

Then, there are the many communities of practice, from the Zapatistas in Mexico to the barter economies of Detroit, from the global Transition Network, to Bhutan, with its Gross National Happiness index. There are even serious economists and writers, from Jeremy Rifkin to David Fleming to Paul Mason, making a spirited case that the evolution beyond capitalism is well underway and unstoppable, thanks to already active ecological feedback loops and/or the arrival of the near zero-marginal cost products and services.This list barely scratches the surface.

Read more.

How One Hawaiian Mayor is Making His Town Better

ocean shore
Hawaii is a beautiful part of the world and like most gorgeous parts pf this planet it’s feeling the pressures of climate change. Despite the American government’s blatant rejection of science and sense in environmental policy one Hawaiian mayor, Bernard Carvalho, is bringing his community into the 21st century. Indeed, when the American government pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord the mayors of Hawaii along with the governor committed to following the accord in their state. Over at Grist they look at what Carvalho is doing in his community, hopefully other mayors will follow his lead.

At the start of his first full term in 2010, Carvalho opened his inaugural address with a vision of a better, more livable Kauai, which he branded as Holo Holo 2020. It laid out the top priorities for the community, from economic resilience to environmental sustainability, and identified 38 projects to carry out. That included installing crosswalks, photovoltaic panels, transit infrastructure, and EV charging stations.

“A lot of this came from my going out into the community. I like to go visit people,” he says. “From these meetings came these 38 projects.”

Many are well underway, and several have been completed, including an upgrade to existing bus service and the extension of a pedestrian path that now stretches along the seashore between the towns of Kealia and Wailua. (You can see the complete list of projects here.) “All of it is tied into this bigger vision of honoring the land and the water and the environment,” Carvalho says.

Read more.

Tough Lobbying Rules in Ireland Work Well

Ten years ago when a bunch of bankers greatly damaged the economy the country of Ireland suffered quite a bit. The people of Ireland made the connection between influence on politicians from large corporations on poor public policy – thus they changed the rules on how the private sector can influence the public sector. The rues now put in place are appearing to rebuild trust in politicians, and the other countries are now looking at following Ireland’s lead.

The Irish reforms are simple. Any individual, company or NGO that seeks to directly or indirectly influence officials on a policy issue must list themselves on a public register and disclose any lobbying activity. The rules cover any meeting with high-level public officials, as well as letters, emails or tweets intended to influence policy.

For those in the business, the impact of the register and its requirements are primarily about the way the industry is perceived — and, broadly, they’re happy about it.

“I’ve not heard anybody suggest the Lobbying Act has impacted in any way the willingness or the ability to influence [policymakers],” said Conall McDevitt, CEO of Hume Brophy, one of Ireland’s largest lobbying firms. “It’s always better in our industry to have transparency, we’re all the stronger for it.”

Read more.