Planning for a Zero-Growth Economy

conversation

The economy is sometimes referred to as an entity outside of human control – it isn’t. We control the economy through policies and practices in each nation. The last half century focussed on growing the economy at the expense of all else from social care to the environment. We’ve seen massive growth in inequality alongside easier access to consumer growth. Given the state of the planet we know this won’t work for much longer. Accordingly, it’s time to rethink what we do to support economic growth and what kind of world we want to live in.

Meanwhile we could begin to boost quality of life simply by tracking it more explicitly: instead of focusing government policy on boosting GDP (the total dollar value of all goods and services produced domestically), why not aim to increase Gross National Happiness — as measured by a selected group of social indicators?
These are ways to make economic shrinkage palatable; but how would policymakers actually go about putting the brakes on growth?
One tactic would be to implement a shorter workweek. If people are working less, the economy will slow down — and meanwhile, everyone will have more time for family, rest, and cultural activities.
We could also de-financialize the economy, discouraging wasteful speculation with a financial transaction tax and a 100 percent reserve requirement for banks.

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Community-Owned Green Businesses Seeing Great Growth

Community-Owned sustainable energy companies aren’t new, but they are successful! One of the reasons Germany’s push to a sustainable energy grid has worked is that local community own and operate solar farms, wind farm, and so on. Now that citizen-empowering model is

According to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), there was a 31% jump in renewable energy sector investment across Canada in 2014 with $8 billion spent on developing green energy projects. Locally, community co-ops have developed over 75 projects in the Greater Toronto Area, including on rooftops in Toronto, Hamilton, Brampton, Vaughan, Markham and Mississauga, with many more to come.

“These are very exciting times for renewable energy. Costs have dropped significantly, technology has improved, and electricity system managers have made the leap on integrating these new energy sources. The result is a big upswing in jobs and investment in this sector, exactly what our country needs right now with our oil sector stalling out and the threat of climate change growing,” says Judith Lipp, President of the Federation of Community Power Cooperatives (FCPC).

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Ontario Demands Less Energy Despite Economic Growth

The only region in North America that expects a decrease in power consumption is Ontario and it’s all thanks to energy conservation initiatives. This is really great because it proves that energy efficiency policies can make a difference in how much energy is required to power a growing economy.

What’s even better is that decrease in overall energy consumption will mean that the money that went to paying for electricity can be spent elsewhere, which should in theory propel the economy even further.

“This isn’t because economies aren’t growing and our population is not growing, and it isn’t because people aren’t buying things,” says Chuck Farmer, director of planning policy and approvals with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).

“It’s really because the growth is being offset by energy efficiency in one form or another and I think that’s quite a success story.”

In Ontario, meanwhile, electricity demand growth has declined since reaching a peak in 2005. And now, winter demand has slipped in negative (-0.34 per cent) territory, with summer demand predicted to barely move at 0.07 per cent.

Read more at the Ottawa Citizen.

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