Green Economy

New Markets and New Commons Transforming Finance

Markets that respect the commons are the way of the future.

As part of the Green Economy series 

By Hazel Henderson

The idea that more markets are always better and should eventually spread worldwide (known as “market fundamentalism”) is now challenged by the growing movement to protect and defend the global commons: our Earth’s atmosphere, rivers, oceans, biodiversity and electromagnetic spectrum underpinning our global communications networks, satellites and the Internet – providing the publicly funded platform of global finance.

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09:40 pm by csrwiretalkback[19 notes]

Recreating Our Economy: The Untapped Power of Community Wealth Building

Democratic enterprises that build community prosperity are gaining ground.

By Jeffrey Hollender

We have before us an incredible opportunity to transform our economy. The disastrous turn our fiscal health took in 2008 has forced us to really think about the way our country creates and distributes wealth. One positive outcome of the recession is a zeal and enthusiasm around the idea of community wealth building, a sustainable approach to building and developing successful, sustainable and vibrant local economies.

Community wealth building is premised on the idea of broadly-shared ownership that is locally-rooted and directed toward the common good. Ownership can take place in many different forms, chief among them:

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06:49 pm by csrwiretalkback[6 notes]

Transforming Finance

A financial transactions tax is a sensible idea whose time has come.

As part of the Green Economy series

By Hazel Henderson

In 2010, we at Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil) released a statement from the meeting of financial experts we convened on Transforming Finance. We worried the Dodd-Frank Bill – now made law – would do little to prevent another financial collapse. We were concerned about too-big-to-fail banks (now 30% bigger); the May 6, 2010, flash crash and Wall Street’s computerized high-frequency trading; regulating derivatives (the CTFC still has not moved); raising banks’ capital reserves to curb risk-taking; separating retail banking from risky proprietary trading; reforming credit ratings, as well as discussing a below 1% financial transaction tax (FTT) to curb “flash trading” and speculation without harming genuine investors. 

I support this “sensible FTT" since such a tax would help all strapped governments raise significant revenue to fill their budget gaps.  FTT is now supported by many European countries on the agenda at the G-20 and is the easiest tax to track (FXTRS) and collect from online trading platforms. Lobbyists in Washington, Brussels and London still are fighting all these reforms in the Dodd-Frank law (which kicks the can over to weak, understaffed regulators).

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10:25 pm by csrwiretalkback[19 notes]

Consumer Demand: Driving the Green Transition

The Green Transition Scoreboard tots up $2 trillion in consumer green demand.

By Maria Olga Pinochet

In 2009, The Green Revolution, a survey by Grail Research, found that 85% of US consumers buy green products. Growing consumer demand for greener products and company practices is influencing business plans worldwide. The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study 2010 confirms sustainability is considered a key driver for growth. Increased demand spans traditional consumer segments, including business-to-business transactions and government spending.

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09:47 pm by csrwiretalkback[7 notes]

Good News on the Global Green Transition

New reports show shifting investment greenward is prudent and do-able.

By Hazel Henderson

Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil) now reports over $2 trillion invested in the green private sector since 2007 in the 2011 Green Transition Scoreboard® Report. Thus, we call for pension funds to shift 10% of their assets under management (AUM) away from risky hedge funds, dark pools and commodity ETFs into cleaner, green companies. Importantly, the 2011 Report includes news of two key studies from Mercer in New York and WWF/Ecofys/OMA in Amsterdam that buttress our call.

Mercer’s report, Climate Change Scenarios – Implication for Strategic Asset Allocation, upped the ante. Backed by IFC and 14 pensions funds with AUM of some $2 trillion, the report calls for 40% of institutional funds to switch toward “climate-sensitive assets” both for hedging risk and capturing opportunities in low-carbon companies. Mercer’s Craig Metrick told us this huge research effort will be ongoing with annual updates.

Meanwhile, the WWF/Ecofys/OMA report, The Energy Report, shows how the global economy can shift to “100% Renewable Energy by 2050.” We will be further analyzing this expansive report and interviewing their researchers as to exactly how this goal can be reached.

Both studies call for accelerating upfront capital investment so as to scale the green technologies already competing price-wise with fossil fuels and nukes: energy efficiency, wind and solar PV. This is also why we at Ethical Markets Media track these private sector investments and benchmark $1 trillion per year through 2020 to bring them to scale. While capital cost may be higher for some technologies, the fuel is abundant and free. All these studies point out the absurdities of 90% subsidies still given to fossil fuel and nuclear energy, decades after their maturity, while renewables and efficiency receive less than 5%.

Globally, two additional studies now indicate the green transition has reached a tipping point. The Threshold 21 World modeling in “Towards a Green Economy" finds investing $1.3 trillion annually (some 2% of global GDP) over 10 key sectors can kick-start the green transition, reduce poverty and limit wasted resources. The UN Environment Program and World Meteorological Organization issued a summary "Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone,” reconfirming what I and many others have stated: the obsessive focus on carbon dioxide (CO2) and its pricing has always been too narrow, and should include soot, VOCs, methane, mercury and other chemicals from fossil fuels harmful to humans and the environment. I have studied atmospheric chemistry since founding Citizens for Clean Air in 1964 and remember the helicopter ride we arranged for Senator Robert F. Kennedy to show him all the sources of air pollution around New York City and how the costs were “externalized” from company balance sheets and national accounts (GDP). Kennedy went on to become our champion and made his famous speech in 1968 at the University of Kansas! 

All these systemic reports finally may shift governments, pension funds and companies toward greener policies worldwide.

About Hazel Henderson

Hazel Henderson, D.Sc.Hon., FRSA, founder of Ethical Markets Media, is a futurist and author of award-winning Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy. Her editorials are syndicated worldwide by InterPress Service. She leads the Transforming Finance initiative, created the Green Transition Scoreboard® and developed with Calvert Group the systems alternative to GNP, the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators. In 2010 she was honored as one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior 2010” by Trust Across America.

About the Green Transition

"Good News on the Global Green Transition" is part one of five exploring the sectors driving the Green Transition. Stay tuned for Green Transition Talkback posts on Efficiency and Green Construction, Corporate R&D, the Renewables sector and Consumer Demand, contributed by members of the Green Transition Scoreboard® research team. For more information, please view the associated press release.

Talkback Readers: Are we at a tipping point for a Green Transition? What will it take to shift investment? Share your thoughts on Talkback!

07:11 pm by csrwiretalkback[17 notes]

Green wish or green wash? The difficult transition from ‘greening’ urbanization to an integrated green economy

Defining the green economy means defining prosperity.

By Philip Monaghan

According to media reports and unofficial briefings the UN has finally given up on a credible, binding global climate deal on carbon reductions ever happening. Commentators are saying the North and South will never be able to agree on common ground, politicians do not have the appetite to think long-term anyway, and to make matters worse, the world recession has given professional sceptics everywhere a wonderful excuse not to take a difficult decision anyhow.

It would appear all hope is not lost however. The UN is already making manoeuvres with its ‘Plan B’ – the green economy.

A round of applause please for those UN folk; they do not give up on a good idea easily. The thinking here is that by focusing on close-to-home, populist issues – like growth, jobs and skills arising from building a new generation of electric vehicles – politicians and the general public will warm (no pun intended) to the idea of taking climate action. In short, economic development is a good news story, asking voters to pay more for the gasoline in their cars is a bad news story. One only needs to look at the interest China’s new 5-year plan aroused recently to see this in action because of its focus on low or zero carbon industries.

So is this a viable alternative or a regressive step by the UN?

The answer is ‘yes.’ Not wishing to confuse you, what I mean by this is if we get the working definition right, it could be a game changer. If we fail to put in place the appropriate governance arrangements, however, it could make matters much worse.

Starting with a clear, agreed, commonly used definition may seem an academic point. Yet it is crucial to it working at all. Yes, it must be about uncoupling growth in wealth from growth in emissions. But more than this, it needs to be about shared prosperity; if there are to be winners and losers as a result of the transition, then it should not be the poor or global South that fails to benefit. There is work already afoot from various organisations like the World Future Council and collaborators to come up with useful ideas on such a definition, but hopefully this is the beginning of the conversation not the end, as we need the discussion to be led from or with Southern partners.

Turning now to governance, it is vital appropriate local and national governance arrangements by the OECD and others are put in place to hold any firms or governments accountable for the plethora of new public-private partnerships being established to develop major urban infrastructure (rapid transport, smart grids) or special trading zones (wind or solar industrial parks) to ensure there is no cynical stripping of community assets or green patents. Especially so as public spending shortfalls owing to the global recession may weaken the negotiating power of our world city mayors and leaders.

The Earth Summit 2012 – the Rio+20 anniversary – is a legitimate and timely forum to begin to craft a better understanding of both these issues, given it will bring together best minds from local government, industry and NGO. But only if the two issues are seen to work in tandem will they become critical to climate resilience. Let the big debate begin.

About Philip Monaghan

Philip Monaghan is author of the acclaimed new book Sustainability in Austerity, which has been praised by respected commentators from the UN, Harvard, WWF and Accenture.

He is a strategist and change manager in the fields of economic development and environmental sustainability.

Talkback Readers: What suggestions would you bring to the table at the Earth Summit 2012 for a successful transition to the green economy? Tell us on Talkback!

05:48 pm by csrwiretalkback[30 notes]



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