Rage and the Economics of the Environment

Economist Tim Jackson, Copenhagen Dec 2009

[Rage does feel appropriate at times with the continuing mis-information regarding climate change and the IPCC. While some focus on looking for typos in 3000 page report, the real issue is an overwhelming need to bring our economic system in line with the reality that we have but one planet to live on. Economists like Tim Jackson, who I met in Copenhagen, and others are taking on this vitally important task but are getting little media attention. — Stephen]

Stephen Leahy interviews British economist TIM JACKSON*

Tim Jackson: “The climate treaty wasn’t the only thing that failed in Copenhagen.”

TORONTO, Canada, Jan 28, 2010 (Tierramérica)

“Rage is sometimes the appropriate response” to the failure of the world’s leaders to craft a new climate treaty at the Copenhagen summit, says British economist Tim Jackson.

The Copenhagen Accord, the outcome of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, not only revealed global environmental governance as a fiction, but also demonstrated a continuing blind adherence to the mantra of economic growth, says Jackson

Professor of sustainable development and director of the Research Group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment at Surrey University in Britain, Jackson also serves as British government advisor and economics commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission.

In addition, Jackson is a professional playwright with numerous radio-writing credits for the BBC, based in London.

Tierramérica’s Stephen Leahy spoke with Jackson by phone about his new, controversial book “Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet”, the Copenhagen Accord and prospects for a real climate treaty, continuing a conversation they began last month in Copenhagen.

Q: Your book “Prosperity without Growth” argues that economic growth in developed countries is making people less happy and destroying the Earth itself.

A: It’s clear the continued pursuit of growth endangers the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival.

There is also ample evidence that increasing material wealth in developed countries is not making people any happier, but just the opposite in some countries. Beyond a certain level of income, there is no correlation of greater income with greater happiness.

Q: If the era of economic growth is over, what will take its place?

A: Wealth and prosperity need to be redefined along the lines of (1998 Nobel laureate in economics) Amartya Sen’s “capability for flourishing.” Flourishing is defined as having enough to eat, being part of a community, worthwhile employment, decent housing, access to education and medical services.

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Can Capitalism Be Green?

Copyright 2006 Renate LeahyCan Capitalism Be Green?

By Stephen Leahy

Experts say continuous economic growth, intrinsic to capitalism, is not viable on a planet with increasingly scarce natural resources.

May 7 (IPS/IFEJ) – Capitalism has proven to be environmentally and socially unsustainable, so future prosperity will have to come from a new economic model, say some experts. Just what this new model will look like is the subject of intense debate.

One current states that continuous growth can be environmentally compatible if clean and efficient technologies are adopted, and if economies stop producing material goods and move towards services. This is known as sustainable prosperity.

International agreements to fight global problems, like the thinning of the atmosphere’s ozone layer and climate change, used market principles to achieve compliance by the private sector.

But the problem is, “We are consuming 25 percent more than the Earth can give us each year,” says William Rees, of the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia.

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