These themes and questions have emerged from conversation within the Great Transition Initiative. Together they form an initial framework or matrix for collaborative work across many sectors. This comprehensive "high dimensional" method pulls together hundreds of related facets taken from current conversations, proposing means for independent agencies and experts and concerned citizens to work together in an integral and consistent context that far exeeds what any one person or organization could do alone.
1. Local, National, and Global Citizen Movements
"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.
We, members of the Occupy movement and civil society, highlight the critical window of opportunity at the Earth Summit to vastly scale up political, financial & public response to the environmental, social & economic crisis of our time, & to raise ambition to the level that science demands. We are exceeding 3 of 9 planetary boundaries (climate change; biodiversity loss; changes to the nitrogen cycle) and our economy has outgrown the ecosystems we depend on. We denounce debt-created money and demand urgent regulation for a steady-state economy. We vow to respect and protect the beauty and diversity of life on Earth, realising our interconnectedness with nature. Governments, corporations and financial institutions must wake up and dramatically prioritise people & the planet over abusive exploitation for short-term profit & “growth”.
In defence of our rights, freedoms & future, we call for:
1. A direct participatory democratic UN: inclusive rights-based global decision-making; open-source communications. Prioritise youth, women, marginalised voices & civil society formally in negotiations.
2. Ending corporate capture of the UN: end compromising partnerships & transfer of officials. Exclude business lobbyists from talks. Expose & prohibit the bullying & bribing of poor nations by rich nations.
3. Realisation of new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by increased cooperation, commitment, funding & resources, strengthening the Millennium Goals (MDGs) & cancelling unjust poor country debt.
4. Peace & demilitarization, democratising the UN Security Council, a binding global arms treaty, SDG on peace & conflict, nuclear disarmament by 2030 & transfer funds to local sustainable development.
5. A Financial Transaction Tax, abolition of tax havens & a Global Carbon Fee on extraction of fuels, to transparently & equitably fund life-saving adaptation solutions, prioritising resilience & climate justice.
6. Ending fossil fuel subsidies now & extraction by 2020. Invest in non-nuclear Renewable Energy for All: global wind/solar/small-hydro/geo-energy; efficient stoves; zero carbon global electricity by 2030.
7. Outlawing Ecocide as the 5th International Crime Against Peace: prosecute destruction of ecosystems e.g. tar sands, oil spills, mountaintop removal, fracking. Protect the commons & Rights of Mother Earth.
8. Zero deforestation of Amazon rainforest by 2015 & globally by 2020. Rejection of pricing & trading nature, including forests, water & the atmosphere; and rejection of offsetting damage/destruction.
9. Food & water sovereignty & security. Ban land grabs. Protect Indigenous peoples’ land rights. Switch support for biofuels & industrial, chemical & GM agriculture to small organic farming & permaculture.
This is what democracy looks like. This is Harmony with Nature. This is the Future We Need for a just, resilient, thriving world. Join Global Days of Action on June 5th & 20th to raise our voice to challenge & bring hope to Rio+20.
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!
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.
The Social Science Library (SSL), which is a contribution to the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development, contains over 3,400 full-text journal articles, book chapters, reports, and working papers in Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy, Social Psychology, Sociology and Political Science. To browse the SSL collection online, click here. Note: This resource is also available in UBS/CD format.
To inquire about getting/distributing this resource, visit the GDAE SSL website or write to them at email@example.com
The EveryAware Project, European Union. "EveryAware is an EU project intending to integrate environmental monitoring, awareness enhancement and behavioral change by creating a new technological platform combining sensing technologies, networking applications and data-processing tools."
Global Systems Science Education, University of California - Berkeley. "Global Systems Science, a science course for grades 9-12, focuses on science-related societal issues. 12 books, teacher guides, and software can support a 1-year integrated science course or supplement existing biology, physics, chemistry, Earth science, or environmental science."
Climate Change Education. "Portal Web Site Dedicated to: Global Warming Education, Climate Change Science Education, Science, Solutions -- Directory of Vetted Resources & Programs. For Teachers, Students, Parents, Families, Education Programs, Everyone."
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. Net Energy and Energy Return on Investment (EROI)
At each point in the energy supply chain:
NET ENERGY = ENERGY GAINED - ENERGY SPENT (in energy units, eg., MegaJoules)
ENERGY RETURN ON INVESTMENT = ENERGY GAINED / ENERGY SPENT (dimensionless ratio)
Thus, Net Energy and Energy Return on Investment (EROI) -- or Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) -- are conceptually the same measure. Generally, EROI is closely correlated with "financial return on financial energy investment" -- a measure of financial return in dollars -- as long as "constant [year] dollars" are used.
ENERGY RETURN ON ENERGY INVESTED (EROEI, also abbreviated as EROI)
"Energy Return on Investment (EROI) refers to how much energy is returned from one unit of energy invested in an energy-producing activity. It is a critical parameter for understanding and ranking different fuels. There were a number of studies on EROI three decades ago but relatively little work since. Now there is a whole new interest in EROI as fuels get increasingly expensive and as we attempt to weigh alternative energies against traditional ones. This special volume brings together a whole series of high quality new studies on EROI, as well as many papers that struggle with the meaning of changing EROI and its impact on our economy. One overall conclusion is that the quality of fuels is at least as important in our assessment as is the quantity. I argue that many of the contemporary changes in our economy are related directly to changing EROI as our premium fuels are increasingly depleted." Charles Hall, Introduction to Special Issue on New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment), Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 10, 7 October 2011.
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ENERGY RESOURCES
As the time window of opportunity may be shorter than expected, it is imperative to work out short-term energy strategies in conjunction with long-term strategies. A 2009 study by Richard Heinberg and the Post-Carbon Institute includes a comparative analysis of 18 energy sources according to 10 criteria, as follows:
3) Natural gas
7) Wind Power
8) Solar Photovoltaics
9) Active Solar Thermal
10) Passive Solar
11) Geothermal Energy
12) Energy from Waste
15) Tar Sands
16) Oil Shale
17) Tidal Power
Criteria for comparative analysis:
1) Direct Monetary Cost
2) Dependence on Additional Resources
3) Environmental Impacts
5) Potential Size or Scale of Contribution
6) Location of the Resource
8) Energy Density
10)"Net Energy" or "Energy Returned on Energy Invested" (EROEI)
The tenth criterion, "Net Energy" or "Energy Returned on Energy Invested" (EROEI), is critical: "This
measure focuses on the key question: All things considered, how much more energy does a system
produce than is required to develop and operate that system? What is the ratio of energy in versus
energy out? Some energy “sources” can be shown to produce little or no net energy. Others are only
"The present analysis, which takes into account EROEI and other limits to available energy
sources, suggests first that the transition is inevitable and necessary (as fossil fuels are rapidly depleting
and are also characterized by rapidly declining EROEI), and that the transition will be neither easy
nor cheap. Further, it is reasonable to conclude from what we have seen that a full replacement of
energy currently derived from fossil fuels with energy from alternative sources is probably impossible
over the short term; it may be unrealistic to expect it even over longer time frames.
"The core problem, which is daunting, is this: How can we successfully replace a concentrated
store of solar energy (i.e., fossil fuels, which were formed from plants that long ago bio-chemically
captured and stored the energy of sunlight) with a flux of solar energy (in any of the various forms in
which it is available, including sunlight, wind, biomass, and flowing water)? ...
"Based on all that we have discussed, the clear conclusion is that the world will almost certainly
have considerably less energy available to use in the future, not more, though (regrettably) this strong
likelihood is not yet reflected in projections from the International Energy Agency or any other
notable official source. Fossil fuel supplies will almost surely decline faster than alternatives can be
developed to replace them. New sources of energy will in many cases have lower net energy profiles
than conventional fossil fuels have historically had, and they will require expensive new infrastructure
to overcome problems of intermittency...
"How far will supplies fall, and how fast? Taking into account depletion-led declines in oil and natural
gas production, a leveling off of energy from coal, and the recent shrinkage of investment in the
energy sector, it may be reasonable to expect a reduction in global energy availability of 20 percent
or more during the next quarter century. Factoring in expected population growth, this implies substantial
per-capita reductions in available energy. These declines are unlikely to be evenly distributed
among nations, with oil and gas importers being hardest hit, and with the poorest countries seeing
energy consumption returning to pre-industrial levels (with energy coming almost entirely from
food crops and forests and work being done almost entirely by muscle power).
"Thus, the question the world faces is no longer whether to reduce energy consumption, but how.
Policy makers could choose to manage energy unintelligently (maintaining fossil fuel dependency
as long as possible while making poor choices of alternatives, such as biofuels or tar sands, and
insufficient investments in the far more promising options such as wind and solar). In the latter case,
results will be catastrophic. Transport systems will wither (especially ones relying on the most energy intensive
vehicles—such as airplanes, automobiles, and trucks). Global trade will contract dramatically,
as shipping becomes more costly. And energy dependent food systems will falter, as chemical
input and transport costs soar. All of this could in turn lead to very high long-term unemployment
and perhaps even famine.
"However, if policy makers manage the energy downturn intelligently, an acceptable quality of life
could be maintained in both industrialized and less-industrialized nations at a more equitable level
than today; at the same time, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced dramatically. This would
require a significant public campaign toward the establishment of a new broadly accepted conservation
ethic to replace current emphases on neverending growth and over-consumption at both
personal and institutional-corporate levels."
These conclusions are confirmed by many independent analyses done as far back as the 1970s and as recent as January 2012. The data is noisy, but the signal is always strong and always the same: barring a technological miracle (or an "act of God") it does not appear possible to replace fossil fuels with any or all of the renewable ("clean") sources and maintain the same rate of energy flow through an industrial economy. This brings to mind the applicability of the precautionary principle to the energy availability situation worldwide.
EROI TRADEOFF ANALYSIS FOR TRANSITION PLANNING
With proper funding, it might be possible to use biophysical input-output analysis to explore energy policy tradeoffs going forward. For a given year, let
X = n-dimensional total production vector ($) U = n-dimensional final demand vector ($) A = NxN matrix of direct inputs (i.e., aij = input from industry i to industry j)
Note that the n industries include the energy extraction, production, and delivery sectors, as well as the pollution abatement and environmental remediation sectors. The basic Leontief equation for total required production is
X = AX + U
X - AX = U
(I-A) X = U
X = (I-A)-1U
Let, for a given energy resource r,
Y = n-dimensional industry energy input vector (i.e., production energy intensity vector, y=1,...,n, in joules/dollar), and
Z = n-dimensional public consumption output vector (i.e., consumption energy intensity vector, z=1,...,n, in joules/dollar)
Then, for the total economy,
Ey = X . Y
is the total amount of energy resource r (in $ . joules/$ = joules) required by the economy during the year, taking into account both direct and indirect inter-industry energy flow requirements; and
Ez = U . Z
is the total amount of energy resource r (in $ . joules/$ = joules) used by consumers of all products during the year.
One problem with input-output analysis in economics is that the interindustry coefficients are in dollars of input from industry i to dollars of output by industry j. Given the volatility of monetary issues (inflation, deflation, politics, etc.), data in dollars are always problematic. From the perspective of biophysical economics, it would be preferable to use coefficients in physical units, i.e., the ratio of units of industry i input to units of industry j output. This would allow for analysis of technological tradeoffs with much of the "noise" filtered out. Dollar conversions can then be applied to translate EROI results (in biophysical units) to financial return on investment in dollars. While input-out models provide a static "snapshot" model of the economy at a given point in time, the biophysical coefficients could be formulated as functions of time in order to take into account the time required for technological changes to be implemented.
Given the technological complexities and social risks of a transition from a high-EROI to a low-EROI economy (as painfully experienced, for example, in Cuba during the early 1990s and North Korea during the early 2000s, both due to unanticipated oil shortages) it is arguably reasonable to spend significant effort (and dollars) in developing better analytical tools to ease the pain.
OTHER ANALYTICAL METHODS FOR ENERGY POLICY ASSESSMENT
The input-output method of analysis is static, i.e., it is based on a "snapshot" of the economy at a given point in time. It is most useful when detailed (and short-term) comparative evaluation of specific energy sources and technologies are required -- oil versus coal, oil versus wind, oil versus solar, etc. Even in such cases, the data refinement effort pursuant to make the interindustry coefficients time-dependent may or may not be possible.
A broader analysis may be required in order to include long-term dynamic interactions between social, economic, and environmental variables in conjunction with plausible energy transition scenarios. Then analysis at a higher level of aggregation might be indicated, and it may be more expedient to use simulation models such as Limits to Growth -- with "resources" more specifically reformulated as "energy resources" -- to examine the repercussions of the transition from high-EROI to low-EROI economies and lifestyles. There is a need for "Revisiting the Limits to Growth After Peak Oil." This is the kind of analysis that will be attempted with SDSIM 2.0.
The social-economic-ecological system is too complex for any single method of analysis, or any combination of existing methods. The best practice is to start with the policy questions or issues to be addressed and use the method(s) that would yield the best insights for consideration by citizens and policy makers. In this regard, the recently emerging method of behavioral economics is promising and may be useful to capture changing patterns of human decision-making during the transition from high-EROI to low-EROI societies.
Another good practice is to recognize that modelers are scientists, not policy makers or problem solvers. Modelers are scientists using models and simulation experiments to test a hypothesis under "controlled" conditiones that may or may not to amenable to replication in the real world. There must be constant dialogue between scientists and decision-makers. But conflating science and decision-making generally exacerbates confusion and seldom leads to practical solutions.
Center for Sustainable Engineering, Partnership of Syracuse University (lead institution), Arizona State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Texas at Austin, 2009-present.
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:
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 via taxes on the usage of land/natural resources.
We hereby declare that the earth is the common heritage of all and that
all people have natural and equal righs to the land of the planet. By the term
"land" is meant all natural resources.
Subject always to these natural and equal rights in land and to this
common ownership, individuals can and should enjoy certain subsidiary rights
These rights properly enjoyed by individuals are:
The right to secure exclusive occupation of land
The right to exclusive use of land occupied.
The right to the free transfer of land according to the laws of the
The right to transmit land by inheritance.
These individual rights do not include:
The right to use land in a manner contrary to the common good of all,
e.g., in such a manner as to destroy or impair the common heritage.
The right to appropriate what economists call the Economic Rent of
The Economic Rent is the annual value attaching to the land alone apart
from any improvements thereon created by labor. This value is created by the
existence of and the functioning of the whole community wherein the
individual lives and is in justice the property of the community. To allow
this value to be appropriated by individuals enables land to be used not only
for the production of wealth but as an instrument of oppression of human by
human leading to severe social consequences which are everywhere evident.
All humans have natural and equal rights in land. Those rights may be
exercised in two ways:
By holding land as individuals and/or
Sharing in the common use of the Economic Rent of land.
The Economic Rent of land can be collected for the use of the community by
methods similar to those by which real estate taxes are now collected. That
is what is meant by the policy of Land Value Taxation. Were this community
created land value collected, the many taxes which impede the production of
wealth and limit purchasing power could be abolished.
The exercise of both common and individual rights in land is essential to
a society based on justice. But the rights of individuals in natural
resources are limited by the just rights of the community. Denying the
existence of common rights in land creates a condition of society wherein the
exercise of individual rights becomes impossible for the great mass of the
WE THEREFORE DECLARE THAT THE EARTH IS THE BIRTHRIGHT OF ALL PEOPLE
MISSION – "The Earth Rights Institute (ERI) promotes an approach to development that is ecologically, socially, economically and culturally sustainable. Through initiatives in education, research and advocacy we act to end wide-scale poverty worldwide, secure a culture of peace and reverse environmental degradation. We insist on the importance of empowering communities of the global south to manage and direct their own development, conceiving strategies and cultivating expert knowledge at the local level. Instead of training experts in methods and theories originating in a foreign context, models for local development should be taught in a local context. Ultimately, theoretical and practical study of improving the lives of people of the Global South must be anchored in the Global South."
EDUCATION and RESEARCH – ERI’s Living Labs,
located in sub-Saharan Africa, provide the opportunity for hands-on
education in sustainable development. We create a space of exchange
between villagers, students, researchers, professors and experts
from both Africa and around the world. Our EREV program offers
fully accredited academic study abroad semesters in sustainable
development and microfinance. This program joins teams of
Senegalese and international students for a semester long program
in which students work with local communities of a partner
eco-village to design and implement development projects. We now
offer a summer program through the University of California Los
Angeles. For more information visit Earth Rights Ecovillage
BUILDING ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES – Much of our work focuses on the promotion
and implementation of the Eco-village, a model of development which
encourages communities to minimize their ecological footprint
through conservation and effective use of natural resources, such
as permaculture and Jatropha plantation. Eco-villages are a model
that supports healthy human development. In accordance with the
social norms and values of each community, eco-villages govern by
consensus decision-making, based on an active choice to respect
ADVOCACY - ERI participates in and organizes
awareness and advocacy campaigns that promote a healthy and
sustainable world for all its inhabitants. ERI advocates a fair
market economy, and is concerned in large part with land rights and
land value capture/taxation policies that promote easy access to
land and ownership, fundamental elements of sustainable development
"Most taxes distort economic decisions. If labor, buildings or machinery and plants (factories) are taxed, people are dissuaded from constructive and beneficial activities, and enterprise and efficiency are penalized due to the excess burden of taxation. This does not apply to LVT, which is payable regardless of whether or how well the land is actually used. Because the supply of land is inelastic, market land rents depend on what tenants are prepared to pay, rather than on the expenses of landlords, and so LVT cannot be directly passed on to tenants. The direct beneficiaries of incremental improvements to the surrounding neighborhood by others would be the land's occupants, and absentee landlords would benefit only by virtue of price competition amongst present and prospective tenants for those incremental benefits; the only direct effect of LVT on prices in this case is to lower the unearned increment (reduce the amount of the socially generated benefit that is privately captured as an increase in the market price of the land). Put another way, LVT is often said to be justified for economic reasons because if it is implemented properly, it will not deter production, distort market mechanisms or otherwise create deadweight losses the way other taxes do." Source: Land Value Tax, Wikipedia
Synopsis by the author: "What if we lived in a world where everyone had enough? A world where everyone mattered and where people lived in harmony with nature? What if the solution to our economic, social, and ecological problems was right underneath our feet? Land has been sought after throughout history. Even today, people struggle to get onto the property ladder; most view real estate as an important way to build wealth. Yet, as readers of this book will discover, the act of owning land—and our urge to profit from it—causes economic booms and busts, social and cultural decline, and environmental devastation. Land: A New Paradigm for a Thriving World introduces a radically new economic model that promises a sustainable and abundant world for all. This book is for those who dream of a better world for themselves and for future generations."
Assuming that land/resource value taxes are set high enough that they yield as much public revenue as property/income taxes, how is this revenue to be distributed back to all citizens?
What should we do when robots take most jobs? (It will happen sooner than think.)
Robert Reich explains why a universal basic income may be the answer.
Imagine a little gadget called an i-Everything.
You can’t get it yet, but if technology keeps moving as fast as it is now, the
i-Everything will be with us before you know it.
A combination of intelligent
computing, 3-D manufacturing, big data crunching, and advanced bio-technology,
this little machine will be able to do everything you want and give you
everything you need.
There’s only one hitch. As the
economy is now organized, no one will be able to buy it, because there won’t be
any paying jobs left. You see, the i-Everything will do … everything.
We’re heading toward the
i-Everything far quicker than most people realize. Even now, we’re producing
more and more with fewer and fewer people.
Internet sales are on the way to
replacing millions of retail workers. Diagnostic apps will be replacing
hundreds of thousands of health-care workers. Self-driving cars and trucks will
replace 5 million drivers.
Researchers estimate that almost
half of all U.S. jobs are at risk of being automated in the next two decades.
This isn’t necessarily bad. The
economy we’re heading toward could offer millions of people more free time to
do what they want to do instead of what they have to do to earn a living.
But to make this work, we’ll have
to figure out some way to recirculate the money from the handful of people who design
and own i-Everythings, to the rest of us who will want to buy i-Everythings.
One answer: A universal
basic income – possibly financed out of the profits going to such labor
replacing innovations, or perhaps even a revenue stream off of the underlying intellectual
The idea of a universal basic
income historically isn’t as radical as it may sound. It’s had support from
people on both the left and the right. In the 1970s, President Nixon
proposed a similar concept for the United States, and it even passed the House
The idea is getting some traction
again, partly because of the speed of technological change. I keep running into
executives of high-tech companies who tell me a universal basic income is
Some conservatives believe it’s superior
or other kinds of public assistance because a universal basic income doesn’t
tell people what to spend the assistance on, and doesn’t stigmatize recipients
because everyone qualifies.
In recent years, evidence has shown
that giving people cash as a way to address poverty actually works. In study
after study, people don’t stop working and they don’t drink it away.
Interest in a basic income is
surging, with governments debating it from Finland to Canada to Switzerland to Namibia.
The charity “Give Directly” is about to launch a basic income pilot in Kenya,
providing an income for more than 10 years to some of the poorest and most vulnerable
families on the planet. And then rigorously evaluate the results.
As new technologies replace work,
the question for the future is how best to provide economic security for all.
universal basic income will almost certainly be part of the answer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, INEQUALITY FOR ALL.
7. Industrial Quality Standards 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, and all kinds of industrial production and consumption. Methods and tools for this purpose have been developed in such fields as industrial engineering, operations research, and system dynamics. Industrial engineering is specifically concerned with improvements in manufacturing productivity and efficiency. The International Standards Organization (ISO), an agency of the United Nations, has veveloped a comprehensive set of standards, guidelines, and best practices. The IEEE, and other professional organizations, have developed useful quality management standards for manufacturing, health care, education, and other professions.
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.
National Academy of Sciences, United States of America, 2015
"In a world where science is interpreted through a variety of lenses--including cultural values and political dispositions--how can scientists engage with members of the public to empower decision-making and participation in public policy? The development and application of genetically modified plants and animals, also known as GMOs, has been the subject of multifaceted societal debate by some stakeholders, including scientists. This report summarizes the discussions and presentations that took place at a workshop held in January 2015 by the Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences."
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.
"Average fossil fuel subsidies in the world's richest countries have reached $112 per person, draining national treasuries while undermining international efforts to avert dangerous climate change, according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute. Fossil fuel subsidies are costing the 34 OECD countries between $55 billion and $90 billion a year, with the highest level of subsidies in Russia, the United States, Australia, Germany and the UK. It calculates that each of the 11.6 billion tons of carbon emitted by the top 11 rich-country emitters in 2010 came with an average subsidy of $7 a ton - around $112 for every adult in those countries - locking the world into a high-carbon future while failing to benefit poorer people."
"A new, peer-reviewed, report from Friends of the Earth brings to light one of Big Oil’s most overlooked subsidies: royalty-free flaring on public and tribal lands... Royalty-free flaring is both a dangerous addition to climate disruption and a de facto subsidy for the oil industry... For over a century Big Oil has been subsidized to the hilt with everything from tax breaks to royalty free-leasing. To that list we can now add natural gas flaring -- and it has to stop... Focusing on the national epicenter of the flaring boom in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, the new report, “A Flaring Shame: North Dakota & the hidden fracking subsidy,” uses data directly from Bureau of Land Management to reveal the exact amount of gas wasted by individual companies... The original data provided by the BLM is available here."
"The successful outcome of COP21 has raised hopes and expectations of concerted global efforts to tackle climate change. How will this affect the momentum behind the deployment of key renewable technologies and the drive for greater energy efficiency? Ample supply is keeping downward pressure on fossil fuel prices, coal, oil and natural gas. When and how will market dynamics change – or might lower prices for some fuels be here to stay? The impact of local pollution, often energy-related, on air quality is a matter of rising social and political concern in many countries. How can governments act to tackle this problem – and what would these actions mean for the energy sector?
The World Energy Outlook 2016 (WEO-2016) series – including a special report in June and the full Outlook in November – will seek to shed light on these questions and more, all with the customary mix of rigorous quantitative modelling and insightful analysis. The new projections for different scenarios to 2040, based on the latest data and market developments, will cover all fuels, regions and technologies, with a particular focus on the following topical issues:
• The impact of COP21: WEO-2016 will track progress with the implementation of the different country climate pledges made in Paris and judge what they mean for long-term energy trends. Based on this assessment, it will examine and present policy options to bridge the gap and reach climate objectives in full.
• Major focus on renewables: renewable energy is vital to steer the energy system to the low-carbon future envisioned in the Paris agreement. This analysis will assess the rapid improvement in the competitiveness and economics of renewables, relative to fossil-fuels and other low carbon options, as well as the opportunities and questions that a rising share of renewable energy open up for the energy system as a whole.
• The road ahead for fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas remain the bedrock of global energy use but all face an uncertain period of adjustment, both to today’s market conditions and – over the longer term – to the prospect of a new policy landscape post-COP21. With lower prices bringing down the axe on many new projects, WEO-2016 will assess the impact on tomorrow’s market balances and the different pathways and risks that lie further ahead.
• Mexico’s energy outlook: the comprehensive energy reform package passed in Mexico will have profound effects on the country’s energy sector development. This analysis will evaluate the potential impact of the reforms for Mexico’s upstream as well as its power sector and wider economy, and consider Mexico’s choices within the context of an increasingly integrated North American energy market.
• Energy and water: Energy depends on water, and water requires energy. This analysis will build on work done in WEO-2012 and assess current and future freshwater requirements for energy production, highlighting potential vulnerabilities and key stress points. It will include, for the first time, the energy requirements for different processes in the water industry, including wastewater treatment, transport and desalination.
• Special report on energy and air quality (to be released in June): Energy-related air pollution leads to millions of premature deaths and costs the global economy trillions of dollars each year. As the world’s population grows and demand for energy services swells, the already high costs of air pollution risk increasing dramatically. This ground-breaking special report will provide new analysis to help decision-makers evaluate different policy paths and to provide clear recommendations for future action."