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5.5 Paradigm shift: Spaceship or Green economy
Our economy is based on the necessity of growth.

Perpetual growth in a closed system is not possible.

We are now approaching the limits to growth..

Is a sustainable economy - as if Earth were a closed spaceship - possible?

On one side there are the "deniers" and neo-conservative economists who claim that there are plenty of free lunches.
We can all just eat as long and as much as we want.
There will be no bills to pay.
Our wastes will actually benefit others.
Anybody who thinks differently are fools or hysterics.

On the other side there are the "warmers" claiming that there are no free lunches in nature.
The "free lunch" is an illusion fabricated by those who want to sneak away from paying their due.

In reality someone will always end up having to pick up the bill and pay it.

The "warmers" also claim it is immoral to leave the bill to poor people who were unable to have a share in the "free lunch" in the first place; in particular in poor countries.

They also object to leaving unpaid bills to our children and grandchildren. They don't want to risk having to kneel down in front of their grandchildren begging for forgiveness for having stolen their future.

The longer we wait addressing our huge ecological debts properly, the heavier it will be to pay in the future

Below are examples of initiatives for reducing our ecological footprints, change course towards sustainable development and reduction of our ecological debts

  1. "Greening the economy refers to the process of reconfiguring businesses and infrastructure to deliver better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions, extracting and using less natural resources, creating less waste and reducing social disparities"

    The green, sustainable economy gives freedom of enterprise within an ethical, social and environmental framework.
    Our present contempocentrism and anthropocentrism must end.
    We borrow the Earth from our children and grandchildren.
    Nature is not ours. Our role is that of stewardship, not a reckless and greedy owner.

    Development can be defined as increased resilience and robustness of the world's ecosystems and of our local communities. Increased local social cohesion and a sustainable human ecological footprint also belong to this definition.

    Green economy - Worldwatch:





  1. Especially the insurance sector is keen on a more responsible economy and how to reduce impacts of climate change.
    the UN has taken several initiatives on how to develop a new economy.
    UNEP Finance initiative - innovative financing for sustainability:

    A Maldive island Photo: Å. Bjørke

  1. Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy (ORTEE)
    A Vision of Community Sustainability: Model Principles

    A sustainable community is one which:
    1.Recognizes that growth occurs within some limits and is ultimately limited by the carrying capacity of the environment;
    2.Values cultural diversity;
    3.Has respect for other life forms and supports biodiversity;
    4.Has shared values amongst the members of the community (promoted through sustainability education);
    5.Employs ecological decision-making (e.g., integration of environmental criteria into all municipal government, business and personal decision-making processes);
    6.Makes decisions and plans in a balanced, open and flexible manner that includes the perspectives from the social, health, economic and environmental sectors of the community;
    7.Makes best use of local efforts and resources (nurtures solutions at the local level);
    8.Uses renewable and reliable sources of energy;
    9.Minimizes harm to the natural environment;
    10.Fosters activities which use materials in continuous cycles. And, as a result, a sustainable community:
    11.Does not compromise the sustainability of other communities (a geographic perspective);
    12.Does not compromise the sustainability of future generations by its activities (a temporal perspective).

  1. Minnesota Sustainable Development
    Finding solutions that benefit people, business and the environment.
    The Minnesota Sustainable Development Initiative was based on the common-sense belief that if Minnesota's prosperity is to be sustained over time, what is good for business, the environment and communities must eventually become one and the same. This is the essential challenge of sustainable development.

    The Minnesota Sustainable Development Initiative was a collaboration of business, government and civic interests to promote policies, institutions and actions that ensure Minnesota's long-term environmental, economic and social well-being.
    It is administered by the Environmental Quality Board.
    Minnesota sustainable development
  1. The Earth charter
    The mission of the Earth Charter Initiative is to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace.

    Littered beach in Bali. Photo: Lawrence Hislop
  1. Sustainability consulting
    Sustainability advice on a wide range of environmental, social and economic issues.
    These services can be provided either alone or as part of a package, incorporating the firm's wider planning, design, engineering and management skills.
    The firm offers comprehensive services aimed at developing and implementing policies, plans, strategies and management systems, assessing impacts, managing risk, designing mitigation measures, gaining regulatory approvals, undertaking audits and reviews, reporting publicly and controlling costs.
  1. Life cycle assessment
    What is the ecobalance of a product?
    Products themselves do not pollute: it is the factories that made them, the trucks that transported them, the user who uses them and the incinerator that burns them.
    You need life cycle thinking to understand how products impact on the environment.
    If you want to be more precise, you need life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify and balance the impacts of products.
  1. ICLEI
    Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development.
    ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level.
    Our basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.
    ICLEI

    Environment Impact Assessments
    Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context

    Strategic Environmental Assessments
    Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment
  1. CERES principles
    The CERES principles are a ten-point code of corporate environmental conduct to be publicly endorsed by companies as an environmental mission or ethic statement

    The CERES roadmap to sustainability for the 21st century corporation

    BICEP - Business for innovative climate and energy policy:;

    The village of Shishmaref in N. Alaska, which has been inhabited for 400 years and is a small, low-lying island 400m wide and 4km long situated off the North-East coast of Alaska. What you see in the picture used to be somebody's home and has slowly been reduced to a pile of wood. Shishmaref is facing evacuation due to rising temperatures which are melting and destroying the protective barrier of sea ice that keeps sea surges away from the island. At the same time, the melting of Permafrost further destabilises the shoreline, making it more vulnerable to erosion. As higher storm surges reach shore, Shishmaref is shrinking by around 3m every year and the town's homes, water system and infrastructure are being undermined and destroyed to the point where homes are being abandoned as they literally fall into the ocean. Text and photo: Lawrence HislopShishmaref - an indicator of Arctic Climate Change

  1. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)
    The EITI sets a global standard for transparency in oil, gas and mining. It is...
    • An effort to make natural resources benefit all
    • A coalition of governments, companies and civil society
    • A standard for companies to publish what they pay and for governments to disclose what they receive

    The EITI Principles,
    agreed at the Lancaster House Conference in June 2003, provide the cornerstone of the initiative.
    They are:
    • We share a belief that the prudent use of natural resource wealth should be an important engine for sustainable economic growth that contributes to sustainable development and poverty reduction, but if not managed properly, can create negative economic and social impacts.
    • We affirm that management of natural resource wealth for the benefit of a country's citizens is in the domain of sovereign governments to be exercised in the interests of their national development.
    • We recognise that the benefits of resource extraction occur as revenue streams over many years and can be highly price dependent.
    • We recognise that a public understanding of government revenues and expenditure over time could help public debate and inform choice of appropriate and realistic options for sustainable development.
    • We underline the importance of transparency by governments and companies in the extractive industries and the need to enhance public financial management and accountability.
    • We recognise that achievement of greater transparency must be set in the context of respect for contracts and laws.
    • We recognise the enhanced environment for domestic and foreign direct investment that financial transparency may bring.
    • We believe in the principle and practice of accountability by government to all citizens for the stewardship of revenue streams and public expenditure.
    • We are committed to encouraging high standards of transparency and accountability in public life, government operations and in business,
    • We believe that a broadly consistent and workable approach to the disclosure of payments and revenues is required, which is simple to undertake and to use.
    • We believe that payments' disclosure in a given country should involve all extractive industry companies operating in that country.
    • In seeking solutions, we believe that all stakeholders have important and relevant contributions to make - including governments and their agencies, extractive industry companies, service companies, multilateral organisations, financial organisations, investors, and non-governmental organisations


    Statoil and the environment
    The Norwegian oil company, Statoil, tries to develop and implement high standards with regards to the environment. It will always be a question how far an oil company is able to actually implement rigorous and substantive CSR policies.


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The Greenhouse effect, Climate Change and the road to sustainability
1. 1 Greenhouse effect
2. 2 Science
3. 3 Mitigation
4. 4 Impacts
5. 5 Solutions?