May Update

Viable sustainable development?

Is there such as thing as sustainable development?

The global economy is in depression, there is falling employment and yet there is still a general increase in resource usage from the developing nations. This is forecast to increase considerably over the next few decades, following the same path as the so called developed nations who have exploited hydro-carbons to get to where they are today. Sustainable development will not happen on the existing economic model: it relies on growth, but how can growth be achieved when resources are under such pressures. There will have to be more closed loop recycling of resources: can this be increased at a pace to lead to growth? What will the environmental cost to this be? Environmental degradation occurs in many ways: sometimes resource extraction, sometimes from population pressures and sometimes by not accounting for the cost of nature. The latter could be achieved by cost-benefit analysis. What price for clean water and air?

Developing nations should be taking advantage of the new technologies and change their path to development. They have the power to show the rest of the world how they can avoid some of the issues that are so prevalent. In this article electric vehicles are seen as one way to reducing dependence on fossil fuels by developing countries. See the managementism blog. There are also concerns over the continued exploitation of other resources to fuel this new transport though.

Fully recycled and recyclable products could lead to economic growth being made compatible with environmental enhancement perhaps? Environmentalists Winin Pereira and Jeremy Seabrook (1991) argue that only economic growth that is compatible with environmental enhancements, rather than destruction or degradation, only is pollution is reduced to less than that produced in nature itself. Products should be fully recyclable and have inputs from only renewable energy. This includes manufacture and development along with transporting the products.

“Business cannot succeed in societies that fail”, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WNCSD). With economic failure comes depression and with that societies are transformed by unemployment. Are these failing societies? Is the Arab Spring a result of resource prices and a signal of societies failing or are they the start of better countries? Formed by Stephan Schmidheiny in 1991, WNCSD believes that responsible, sustainable and inclusive business models that are good for business and good for development generally. This organisation has recently published it’s report entitled “The Energy Mix. Low Carbon Pathways to 2050.” The report tries to assess how we can move away from the traditional pathways to development and engage new ways of generating energy. It envisages more government intervention perhaps to avoid the locking in to traditional green house gas emissions trajectory. It argues that “a clear, unambiguous and well structured energy policy framework is required” globally to shift the energy mix from high-carbon fuels to deliver carbon dioxide emission reductions. Carbon taxes will have to be paid.

Other areas where there are strategies to reduce our dependence upon hydro-carbons are in the trading blocs such as the EU with its sustainable development growth strategy. Another example is the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Strategy 2020. This is Asia’s sustainable development growth strategy.

These are the green shoots of sustainability and need to grow and be nurtured in order to create sustainable development. There are many steps in the right direction but time is against us with rapid climate changes taking place and a continuation of out-of-date twentieth century hydro-carbon based models.

Is Sustainable Development Viable? Global Warming Is Real Web Site.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WNCSD)

Atlantic Array Proposals

With the increasing rejection by the public of on-shore wind farms there is an increasing number of large wind farm proposals off-shore. This includes the “Atlantic Array” proposals in the Bristol Channel. This area falls between Wales and England and the developers have moved the proposed site further away from the shore line and reduced the number of proposed turbines from 417 to 278. In December 2012 there will be a planning application for this scheme. The export cable route will be to North Devon before connecting with the national grid.

This article came from from the BBC.

Euro Turmoil

The euro crisis continues as the Greece tries to establish a proper government and as Spain’s deficit seems to be becoming overwhelming. To put things into perspective: Greece has around $475.8 billion of debt whilst Portugal has marginally more at $480.7 billion. These are huge amounts but compared with Italy and Spain these figures don’t compare at all: Spain’s debt is $2.3 trillion and Italy’s is $2.34 trillion. Source: Investors Chronicle 18 May 2012.

It remains to be seen if Greece will leave the euro but it could be “more likely than not”. The crisis in Spain could have the potential to cause chaos in the eurozone and wider. There are risks of financial contagion to the wider Europe for example.

Icelandic Link?

Finally there is good news to leave on! Iceland and the UK could be connected by an interconnection electricity cable. This will allow the UK to benefit from a plentiful supply of Icelandic geothermal power. This could be beneficial to both countries. The cable would have to withstand great depths of water and would run over hundreds of kilometres.


About mappedit

Geographical practitioner with an interest in climate change, open mapping, sustainability, the transition movement, transport and many other things.
This entry was posted in Carbon Dioxide, Climate Change, Energy, euro, Europe, Iceland, Renewable Energy, Resources, Sustainable Development and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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