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Why the doughnut needs the bathtub – economic models for real change

Kate Raworth has a wonderfully clear and simple concept – that we should arrange the way we run society on the principle that we do not exceed planetary boundaries – in our relation to nature – on one hand, and that we set things up to avoid people suffering and that everyone’s basic needs get fulfilled – the human dimension – on the other.  She draws it like a doughnut.

In her excellent book, Doughnut Economics, Kate shows how this task is essentially one for the economy and a question for economics. Doughnut economics gives us a very clear set of requirements for how an economy should work. That immediately brings one to think of money, investments, taxes, banks businesses etc. And that is where the model needs a little help .

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Shop your way to fossil freedom

Sixteen-year old Greta Thunberg is asking good questions like “why are we doing nothing about climate change?” She tells it like it is as we stand unmoving – no group wanting to give anything away. Unions rightly take the stance that workers should not pay with lowered standards. Some want to play with small tax adjustments to see the poor OK.

The New Green Deal says “never mind the economics of it – we’ll just invest in the planet we want.” That is good, but you need to make sure people have the money to pay for those new high speed rail services and electric buses.

So. No easy solution? Perhaps there is.

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Swedish Climate Parliament passes motion for true carbon budget

Just as budgets steer every household and every corporation, so should every nation signed up to the Paris Agreement be steered by a carbon budget.  This carbon budget should be treated like a monetary budget, the actions of the Swedish Government (even with the Green Party in power) up to now can only be described as fraudulent. This message comes from Climate Scientist Kevin Anderson, most recently in his presentation to the Swedish Climate Folk Parliament on the 5th May 2018 as it passed a motion to adopt such a budget. Read More…

EXPLAINER: capital, sustainable development and peace

As world population expands, and the demand for a better standard of living drives the world economy, it is becoming clearer to many that using up the world’s resources will actually put us at risk of ending up with a lower standard of living. It could even drive conflicts. Insecurity and lack of the capability to produce the basics are likely to fan the flames of conflict and undermine peace in the world. We urgently need a new mindset – one that focusses on bringing security of the basics to everyone whilst preserving and indeed increasing the capability of society to provide.

Part of this new mindset requires us to rethink capital. This article breaks down the importance of capital to society, and how the economy should manage capital if we are to transition to a sustainable and peaceful future. Read More…

OPINION: upgrade the monetary system and pay people to do the right thing

Stephen Hinton 2016, photo Maj-Lis Koivisto

 

Money and markets are powerful tools in developing our world, most would agree. However,  the negative effects, some might say unintended results of their application are painfully apparent. These include environmental degradation, unequal distribution and crowded, unhealthy cities. To achieve a sustainable future, and the Sustainable Development Goals in particular, all options for changing the economic system should be on the table.   Should we abandon industrial capitalism and our present monetary system altogether? Should we introduce a form of sustainable five-year planning regime? Read More…

Case Study: Dealing with transition to fossil-free food provision and refugees at the same time

food-securityPLACE: Sweden. Municipal level
SITUATION: Swedish municipalities are facing several resilience challenges at once. They have to provide shelter and care to the highest influx of refugees and migrants per capita in Europe whilst preparing for the ambitious government-led transition to fossil fuel independence and carbon neutrality by 2050. Food security is at risk too, as Swedish food provision field to plate is fossil-fuel dependent and food waste is high. Sweden is also dependent on food and fodder imports;  farmers are struggling to compete with imports from countries that have lower food safety and animal welfare standards, better soil and growing seasons, and lower costs.
FRAMING QUESTION: How can municipalities work towards a de-fossilised food provision system that reduces waste, manages the influx of migrants and refugees whilst ensuring the farming community can live on what it produces? Read More…

Opinion: Ericsson divorces Sweden and kills technology

Technology died today. Not the machines, but the paradigm. The belief that delivering high-tech creates jobs, prosperity and shareholder value got killed. The news hit this morning in Sweden’s newspaper SVD among others, that Sweden’s flagship, Ericsson, is shedding thousands of jobs and shutting down manufacturing in Sweden. The decision is sending shock-waves through the municipalities where Ericsson units are one of the largest employers. The likely effect is that whole communities will suffer in a domino effect decimating local suppliers then local services then house prices. And it’s probably the best thing to happen to Sweden for a long while. More on that later. First to the situation. Read More…

The economics of the circular economy

Economic Fiscal Reform calls for the economic system to align with the twin purposes of preserving and  indeed restoring the environment whilst providing a standard of living for citizens. Up to now, these purposes have not been central to the way economics has been practiced. We are, however, facing a pressing situation: soil degradation, atmospheric warming and mineral depletion are forcing us to rethink. The idea of the circular economy – where biological and mineral material circulate in the economy without being deposited – is gaining ground. Read More…

Community finance: a Permaculture approach

ABOUT COMMUNITY FINANCE:  We are living at the peak of human achievement, but also at the peak of our resources. A change towards sustainability includes handing over to future generations the possibility to create for themselves a standard of living at least equivalent to that we enjoy. This requires fundamentally re-thinking how we use resources, indeed many of the social arrangements we take for granted, including our relationship to money. And we need to start now. The basic values in this article come from Permaculture: People care, Earth care, Fair share. However, you do not need to know Permaculture to understand the article.  We will  explores ways, within the current financial system, to create communities that align to these values. Read More…

A Marx moment manifests in McDonald’s

My partner and I were driving home and needed a coffee break. It was late Sunday night. Only motorway stops were  on offer. We opted for a McDonald’s.  As I walked over to the store I checked my mail: an update from Marxist economist Michael Roberts to read whilst I waited for our order. I was about to learn something.

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