Mother Pelican
A Journal of Sustainable Human Development

Vol. 8, No. 1, January 2012
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
Home Page


Short-Term Strategies for Sustainable Energy


This new page is work in progress. The plan is to build a "one page synthesis" on short-term tactics and strategies for the transition to clean energy.

1. Global Citizen Movements & The Occupy Movement
2. Education for Sustainable Development
3. "Soft Means" to Advance Public Policy
4. Financial Transaction/Speculation Taxes
5. Shift to Land/Resource Value Taxes
6. Guaranteed Basic Personal Income
7. ISO Standards, Guidelines, and Best Practices
8. Transferring Subsidies from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy
9. Fostering and Deploying Clean Energy Technologies

"For most of the last century, economic growth was fuelled by what seemed to be a certain truth: the abundance of natural resources. We mined our way to growth. We burned our way to prosperity. We believed in consumption without consequences. Those days are gone. In the twenty-first century, supplies are running short and the global thermostat is running high. Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete. It has rendered it extremely dangerous. Over time, that model is a recipe for national disaster. It is a global suicide pact." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the World Economic Forum session on redefining sustainable development, Davos, Switzerland, 28 January 2011. For the complete text, click here.


Methods for analysis of short-term tactical interdependencies include precedence diagrams, interdependency matrices, and optimization techniques such as linear programming. Software is readily available to do the number crunching.

The following are recent contributions to tactical optimization of energy systems:

Industrial Energy System Optimization, UNIDO (UN) web site as of 28 July 2011.
Industrial Energy Analysis & System Optimization, LBL (USA) web site as of 28 July 2011.
Industrial energy efficiency and systems optimization, REEEP-UNIDO, Module 17 as of 28 July 2011.
Energy Optimization in Process Systems, Stanislaw Sieniutycz and Jacek Jezowski, Elsevier, 2011.
STEMS-Air: A simple GIS-based air pollution dispersion model for city-wide exposure assessment, Gulliver, J. & Briggs, D., Science of the Total Environment, 409: 2419-2429, 2011.
The application of models under the European Union's Air Quality Directive: A technical reference guide, EEA, 26 September 2011.
Using models for air quality assessment and planning: a guide, EEA, 26 September 2011.
The Food Crises: A quantitative model of food prices including speculators and ethanol conversion, New England Complex Systems Institute, 29 September 2011.
Considering the energy, water and food nexus: Towards an integrated modelling approach, Morgan Bazilian et al., Energy Policy, 21 October 2011.

NOTE: For the list of links to online references reviewed inn previous issues, click here.

1. Global Citizen Movements & The Occupy Movement

"The term Global Citizens Movement (GCM) refers to a profound shift in values among an aware and engaged citizenry. Transnational corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) remain powerful actors, but all of these are deeply influenced by a coherent, worldwide association of millions of people who call for priority to be placed on new vales of quality of life, human solidarity, and environmental sustainability. It is important to note that the GCM is a socio-political process rather than a political organization or party structure." Global Citizens Movement (GCM), Encyclopedia of Earth, November 2007.


How to Turn the Power of the Wall Street Protests into Real Reforms
by Brent Blackwelder, Daly News, 24 October 2011

As the Wall Street protests have spread from New York City to the rest of the country, some media pundits have criticized the protesters for being unfocused — as if there were only one thing wrong with the financial sector of the U.S. economy. The protests have provided a welcome response to Wall Street’s massive takeover of governance, and continued opposition to the status quo could produce opportunities to enact real reforms.

Don’t expect Wall Street to undertake such reforms voluntarily — some of the shady practices are too profitable. It’s going to take new laws, and key legislation is pending in Congress that could provide important remedies. But new legislation won’t pass without the strongest pressure. That’s where the protesters could make a difference, especially with some forceful activity in the districts where the obstructionists, like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor from Virginia, reside. Cantor said to the conservative Values Voter conference: “I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street” but he backtracked a week later when cautioned by his political finger-in-the-wind testers about the growing popularity of the protests.

Among all the morally bankrupt practices on Wall Street, there’s one in particular that would be easy to abolish. Easy, that is, if we can translate some the energy of the protests into pressure on lawmakers. Pending in Congress are powerful bills such as Senator Levin’s S. 1346 (Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act of 2011) that would strike hard at tax dodgers. But a bill like that has no prayer of passage unless representatives like Cantor feel the pressure.

Instead of reform, Congress is in fact poised to give another “one-time only” tax holiday to companies that stashed profits in tax havens. Huge and wealthy U.S. corporations are actively seeking what is known as a “repatriation holiday” because they say it would create jobs. Such a holiday would allow them to bring home offshore profits at a reduced rate — a nice holiday for the well-to-do CEOs and shareholders, while the rest of us taxpayers suffer the consequences of losing $80 billion of revenue.

The Tax Justice Network and a number of small business associations are trying to right this wrong. They have sent a letter to Congress to dispute this repatriation holiday, noting: “Too many corporations have turned their tax departments into profit centers, using aggressive accounting manipulation to disguise U.S. profits as foreign profits.”

Bloomberg Business Week has pointed out prime examples: Google reduced its income taxes by about $3.1 billion over three years — first by shifting income to Ireland, then to the Netherlands, and finally to Bermuda. Another example is Forest Laboratories, a company that sells over 99% of its drugs in the U.S. but attributes the bulk of its profits to a law office in Bermuda.

Corporate abuses are all the more frustrating in light of how the Congressional “Supercommittee” is discussing the deficit. The Supercommittee is poised to recommend draconian cuts in important programs, but its Republican members are unwilling to address tax havens and tax dodgers that cost the U.S. Treasury an estimated $100 billion per year. The two biggest banks benefiting from taxpayer bailouts are Citigroup with 427 subsidiaries in tax havens and Bank of America with 115.

A recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) adds more grist to the protesters’ mill. The report notes that the salary of chief executives (CEOs) of the S&P 500 soared 27.8% in 2010 to $10.8 million, making the ratio between average CEO pay and average U.S. worker pay now 325 to 1. Back in the good old days of 2009, the ratio was much more equitable at “only” 263 to 1. The IPS study found that 25 of the top 100 CEOs received more pay than their companies paid in federal income tax. Furthermore, 20 of these 25 companies spent more on lobbying than they paid in federal income tax.

One more recent analysis, published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, provides new support for those advocating major reforms in the tax code. The analysis found that those countries with the most progressive tax codes (those that are the exact opposite of a flat tax where everyone regardless of income pays the same rate) had the highest happiness ratings.

Americans want a sustainable and fair economy. But we won’t get one without fundamental financial reforms and a clamp-down on tax dodgers. And we won’t get that without applying pressure to lawmakers and corporations. Now that’s a good focus for a protest.

CASSE Web Materials by CASSE are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License

A high priority of global citizenship is education, either informally through personal contacts and public means of communication such as the internet, or more formally via programs sponsored by educational institutions. At a time when both developed and developing nations seem to be engulfed in political and financial corruption, education in noviolence is especially important. If a global revolution is coming, let it be a nonviolent revolution!

If a global revolution is coming, let it be a nonviolent revolution!

2. Education for Sustainable Development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) worldwide - at all levels - is a high priority. UNESCO has a worldwide program, but universities and other educational institutions must contribute. The family is the best school of sustainable human development.


  • CAMEL (Climate, Adaptation, Mitigation, & E-Learning), National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE)
  • Combines module-based learning resources of NASA Climate Project with EoEarth wiki-style authorship and editorial structure. Also includes aspects of community building and social media interfacing.

    Sources: CAMEL and YouTube

    ESD best practices should include practical (and field tested) means to advance public policy for sustainable development. It is hoped that ESD will overcome the ambiguity of the term "sustainable development" to make it clear that infinite growth in a finite planet is a practical impossibility in the long-term. What really matters going forward is "sustainable human development."

    3. "Soft Means" to Advance Public Policy

    The so-called "soft means" to advance public policy seek the support of the humanities and social sciences to enhance the formulation and implementation of public policies. A classical example, on political philosophy, is The Republic of Plato. More recent examples are the writings on nonviolence by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Engagement in the political process, and adherence to the principle of nonviolence, are tactics of choice for "global citizen" organizations.

    Plato by Silanion
    Source: Wikipedia

    It is often the case that "soft methods" are not persuasive, and more tangible incentives (positive or negative, but always nonviolent) are appropriate. The following section is about reforming tax codes so as to mitigate greedy (and irresponsible) human behavior in financial markets.

    4. Financial Transaction/Speculation Taxes

    Financial transaction/speculation taxes are a disincentive to excessive greed in pursuing financial transactions of dubious social value, such as the so-called "financial derivatives."


    The following section is about reforming tax codes so as to protect the integrity of the human habitat. The following is a excerpt from one many recent reports calling for taxing financial transactions to support the transition to clean energy:

    Reclaiming Power: An energy model for people and the planet, Friends of the Earth,
    2 December 2011.

    "New research by Friends of the Earth presents an alternative energy model that would tackle climate change and enable everyone to gain access to energy.

    "Our current energy model is not working:

    • Our dependency on fossil fuels is driving dangerous climate change
    • Our traditional energy model fails to serve 40 per cent of the world's population adequately
    • 1 billion of those without electricity will never be reached by expanding national grids

    "The alternative:

    "Friends of the Earth proposes an energy model based on a system of global feed in tariffs whcih guarantee cash back for local renewable energy generation. This model would help to:

    • Tackle climate change by shifting energy away from polluting fossil fuels
    • Deliver low-carbon, decentralised energy
    • Address poverty and development through universal access to clean, reliable, affordable energy
    • Rapidly lower the cost of renewable energy technology, making a low-carbon transition easier and cheaper worldwide

    "This mechanism should be publicly funded by rich countries who have committed to help developing countries adapt to climate change

    "Sources of funding could include:

    • A tax on financial transactions <-------------- FINANCIAL TRANSACTION TAX
    • Government subsidies diverted from fossil fuels
    • Special drawing rights from the IMF

    5. Shift to Land/Resource Value Taxes

    There are taxes that focus on depletion of natural resources ("depleter pays principle") and/or the deterioration of natural resources ("polluter pays principle"). One key tax reform proposal that deserves further consideration is the "Land Value Tax" (LVT), originally proposed by American economist Henry George in 1879. The underlying concept is to shift tax burdens from earned incomes to unearned incomes.


    6. Guaranteed Basic Personal Income

    Proposals to replace state welfare systems by universally guaranteed basic income:


    Work dignifies the working person, and quality work even more so. This applies to all kinds of work, from the most humble to the most exalted. The objective of guaranteed basic income is not to induce laziness but to liberate people from a salary system that incentivizes conformance rather than creativity. To ensure that this is the case, quality standards are needed.

    7. ISO Standards, Guidelines, and Best Practices

    All humans have a propensity to cut corners. Regardless of how income is taxed (Section 5) and returned (Section 6) to tax payers, there is a continuing need for quality standards in all kinds of human work.


    What about quality standards for financial institutions? ISO 9000 could be used, but it would seem that the financial services industry should have a dedicated five digit standard. ISO-26000 on social responsibility is a guideline, not an auditable standard. Both stricter regulation and auditable standards are urgently needed for the global financial system.

    8. Transferring Subsidies from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy

    The transferring of subsidies from the fossil fuels industry to the clean energy industry is understandably a sensitive political issue. The fossil fuel industry is enormously powerful. The age of fossil fuels has practically run its course. However, the temptation to keep producing and using "cheap energy" is very strong regardless of environmental consequences. The United States of America has yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because "it is bad for business." The "easy profits" derived from the exploding manipulation of worthless financial assets is also bad for business, but not yet recognized as such by the general public. Subsidies are tricky business, and there seems to be a paucity of expertise about the societal cost of subsidizing pollution-intensive industries.


    9. Fostering and Deploying Clean Energy Technologies

    Beyond taxes and subsidies, what are other ways to incentivize the development and commercialization of clean energy? There are many ways to foster clean energy technologies:


    • Financing Clean Energy

      • Primer For Financing Renewable Energy Projects, Don Madden, Tara Finance, 20 June 2011.
      • Energy Innovation Pays Off Big, Andrew Restuccia, The Hill, 28 June 2011
      • The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation, Google, 29 June 2011.
      • Innovative Sources of Climate Finance, Friends of the Earth, June 2011.
      • Dark Clouds Threaten Solar Makers' Future, Matt Daily, Reuters, 17 October 2011.
      • Excerpt: "In late 2010, solar panel makers were sold out, Germany was gobbling up record numbers of the clean energy systems, and new markets were steadily growing. Now, the erosion of subsidies in Germany and Italy, the world's two biggest markets, and rising production of the panels that turn sunlight into electricity has left the industry awash in a glut of equipment and driven panel prices down by some 35 percent this year. That is good news for consumers and distributors who buy the solar modules, but has left manufacturers reeling as their profit margins shrink and their share prices plummet to multi-year lows. Consequently, some companies have gone bankrupt. However, solar analysts have been quick to point out the young industry is now weeding out the weaker companies, and that prices for solar power are quickly approaching parity with electricity generated by fossil fuels, which is crucial for reducing its need for government subsidies. That in turn is helping spur its growth in the United States, where installations could double this year to more the 1.5 gigawatts." Source: Sustainable Energy Network, 23 October 2011.

      • Bank Says Global Investments in Renewable Energy to Rise, Vera Eckert, Reuters, 17 October 2011.

        Excerpt: "Oil and natural gas companies, pension funds and other blue-chip firms are likely to raise their investments in renewable-energy projects, thanks to shrinking costs and a faster turn around compared with nuclear power, according to a study from Swiss bank Sarasin. Banks, which tend to have a more cautious lending philosophy after the financial crisis, are more willing to lend to wind power projects with a 12 to 18 month realization time-span, for example, compared with nuclear plants, which need 10 to 15 years. The renewable-energy industry "will become the target of progressive oil and gas companies and utilities, and of blue-chip firms in conventional industries," a researcher said. Global renewable energy was the fastest growing energy sector in the past decade, reaching $200 billion in 2010, up 25% from 2009, the report showed." Source: Sustainable Energy Network, 23 October 2011.

      • Biofuels, Biomaterials Growing at Three Times the Global GDP Rate, Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest, 19 October 2011.
      • Excerpt: "A new survey says 79 percent of bioenergy executives are more optimistic both about their organization’s prospects for growth and industry growth, than 12 months ago, and that 72 percent are more optimistic about the industry’s prospects than at this time in 2010. Overall, the survey painted a picture of an industry that is expecting to grow at nearly triple the growth rate of the world economy (8.9 percent for the industry, compared to 3.2 percent for the total economy), but expecting to find generally less external support in the form of tangible support from government, and less IPO activity. Though 50 percent of respondents expect the cellulosic ethanol sector to reach 1 billion gallons in capacity, 67 percent indicated the same belief in Q1 of this year." Source: Sustainable Energy Network, 23 October 2011.

      • IEA Says Fossil Fuels Got More Aid Than Clean Energy, Ben Sills, First Enercast Financial, 19 November 2011.
      • Excerpt: "Fossil-fuel consumers worldwide received about six times more state subsidies last year than were given to the renewable-energy industry, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency in its "World Energy Outlook." Aid to cut the price of gasoline, gas and coal rose by more than a third to $409 billion as global energy prices increased, compared with $66 billion of support for biofuels, wind power and solar energy. The Group of 20 nations in 2009 pledged to eliminate state aid for oil, coal and natural gas. However, G-20 nations spent $160 billion supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels last year, led by Saudi Arabia’s outlay of $44 billion, the IEA said." Source: Sustainable Energy Network, 20 November 2011.

      • Preparing to manage climate change financing, Simon D. Donner, Milind Kandlikar, Hisham Zerriffi, Science, 18 November 2011.
      • Excerpt: "At the 2010 Cancun Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international community agreed in principle to one of the largest development programs in history. The developed nations pledged to mobilize U.S.$100 billion per year by the year 2020 to “address the needs of developing countries” in responding to climate change. The funds, which may apply to adaptation and mitigation, are proposed to flow through multiple channels, including existing development banks, official development assistance, bilateral programs, international private investment flows (e.g., carbon markets), and other public and private mechanisms. Recommendations provided by a transitional committee for the management and operation of the proposed climate change financing will be considered by the parties to the UNFCCC at the upcoming conference in Durban, South Africa."

    • Triple Bottom Line (TBL)

    • Energy System Optimization

    • Energy Business Council (EBC)
    • IEAEBC.jpg
      From the International Energy Agency's EBC web site:

      "Regular consultations with industry make a vital contribution to the IEA's work on market and policy analysis and development.
      As the private sector is responsible for the vast bulk of energy investment, it is therefore necessary for governments and industry to work hand-in-hand to create the right framework conditions that will create clear, predictable, long-term economic incentives that empower business to undertake the huge investment programmes required for a cleaner and more efficient energy future. Given the key role industry has to play, the IEA believes there is a clear need to enhance cooperation between the energy sector and energy policy makers. The establishment of the IEA Energy Business Council (EBC) addresses this need as it seeks to act as a facilitator to ensure the voice of the energy sector is heard in the energy policy debate. The EBC is an executive-level group that represents a wide variety of companies involved in different aspects of energy exploration, production, transformation and consumption. They range from commodities companies to automobile manufacturers to wind and solar energy producers, as well as industry associations. EBC companies’ operations are international and membership of the group evolves over time according to priority issues and within the IEA."



      World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2011, IEA 2011
      WEO Fact Sheets, IEA 2011
      WEO Key Graphs, IEA 2011
      Key World Energy Statistics
      CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion 2011, IEA 2011
      Developments in Energy Subsidies, IEA 2011
      Energy for All: Financing access for the poor, IEA 2011

    • Deploying Renewables 2011: Best and Future Policy Practice, IEA, December 2011
    • The global energy system faces urgent challenges. Concerns about energy security are growing, as highlighted by the recent political turmoil in Northern Africa and the nuclear incident in Fukushima. At the same time, the need to respond to climate change is more critical than ever. Against this background, many governments have increased efforts to promote deployment of renewable energy – low-carbon sources that can strengthen energy security. This has stimulated unprecedented rise in deployment, and renewables are now the fastest growing sector of the energy mix.

      This “coming of age” of renewable energy also brings challenges. Growth is focused on a few of the available technologies, and rapid deployment is confined to a relatively small number of countries. In more advanced markets, managing support costs and system integration of large shares of renewable energy in a time of economic weakness and budget austerity has sparked vigorous political debate. The IEA’s new report, Deploying Renewables 2011: Best and Future Policy Practice:

      • Provides a comprehensive review and analysis of renewable energy policy and market trends;
      • Analyses in detail the dynamics of deployment and provides best-practice policy principles for different stages of market maturity;
      • Assesses the impact and cost-effectiveness of support policies using new methodological tools and indicators;
      • Investigates the strategic reasons underpinning the pursuit of RE deployment by different countries and the prospects for globalisation of RE.

      This new book builds on and extends a 2008 IEA publication, drawing on recent policy and deployment experience world-wide. It provides guidance for policy makers and other stakeholders to avoid past mistakes, overcome new challenges and reap the benefits of deploying renewables – today and tomorrow.

    • Top 10 Clean Tech Stories of 2011, Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica, 30 December 2011
    • solar-energy-cost-drop-19852011


      1. 40% drop in cost of solar
      2. Wind energy driving down the price of electricity
      3. The Solyndra non-scandal
      4. Solar energy industries employ a ton of people
      5. Google & Facebook going clean
      6. Electric vehicles (EVs) and EV charging stations roll out
      7. Lack of strong federal clean energy policy
      8. Wind penetration hitting record levels in U.S. and abroad
      9. The public backlash against nuclear after Fukushima
      10. Better Buildings Initiative

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    E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful, 1973


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