The Switch • November 2010
The Switch is a monthly newsletter distributed by the Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED) on initiatives that are making the switch to a sustainable society. The Switch covers various campaigns, new book releases, academic papers, policy processes and more. It takes a holistic and progressive approach to the sustainability debate and does not shy away from addressing controversial topics. The Switch also keeps you updated on upcoming conferences and events. The Switch is open for your news, events and articles as well. So please send them to us !! If you have any other recommendations or comments, don’t hesitate to contact the editor of The Switch, Nick Meynen, meynen.nick[at]gmail.com
On 25 November 2010, a proposal on banning offsetting credits from industrial gas projects in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme was published by the European Commission. CDMWatch and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), who received worldwide media attention earlier this year when exposing how these gas projects created fake carbon credits, welcomed this bold step. “This is a milestone in terms of removing fake carbon credits from the system and helping to improve the environmental effectiveness of the EU ETS” said Eva Filzmoser, Program Director of CDM Watch. According to Fionnuala Walravens, Campaigner at EIA, “The Commission has stood firm, placing environmental integrity over industry interests, which is a credit to the EU policy process”.
The draft Regulation presented proposes a full ban on the use of credits from HFC-23 and N2from adipic acid destruction projects within the EU ETS as of 1 January 2013. But once you consider the scale of the loophole so far, you realize that this is good, but not good enough. Today, almost 70% of all carbon credits sold by developing countries to developed countries (since 2005) came from these two project types, now considered a loophole by the EU. If the EU now considers them as so bad that they will be banned in the future, will it go on to cancel all the fraudulently achieved credits from the past? At present, the EU just says something like “OK, we know you guys did not actually reduce emission in the past five years, when you bought these credits, but we can't retroactively change all these accounts so we will let that one slip through. And oh yes, you can keep fooling the climate up to 31 December 2012. But after that, we don't allow you to buy false credits in the EU ETS (although you can still use the backdoor of the Effort Sharing Directive, if you really want)” The day after the EU's announcement, a report claims that the world is warming 'faster than we thought'. And now for the million dollar question: how did that happen?
For those in search of a more personal, practical and simple problem-solution story, you might want to see the latest story of stuff movie on electronics. The original “The story of stuff”, an animation movie by Annie Leonard, opened the eyes of many who were previously not involved in sustainable production and consumption debates, or debates whatsoever. Maybe because her easy and clear message is freely accessible on the internet and the short movies are just fun to watch. Or maybe because she cuts through the spin and detail and goes straight to the problem at hand and how it directly affects us all. Millions have already watched the short movies and at least a million will probably watch her newest one. In “the story of electronics”, we learn how and why electronics are designed for the dump, what consequences this has and how it could be done differently. Online there's plenty of room for debate, for digging deeper into details and for taking action yourself. Just take 8 minutes of your precious time and click here.
If you have some more time and prefer a clear cut lecture on the broader picture, not just on electronics, here's for some more movies to watch:
On November 20th, the 30th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures brought together three strong voices calling for change in our economic system and outlining strategies for that change. The purpose of the New Economics Institute, who organized the lectures, is to develop, research, and help implement systemic solutions to a series of systemic problems that now face humanity. The talks by Gus Speth, Neva Goodwin and Stewart Wallis may now be viewed online:
The step from video to book is not so hard, especially when you consider that this books reads like you're actually listening to a speech as well. This little pocket is something you might want to read on your plane, or (we hope) train, to this next big international conference where mostly Western professors will again discuss poverty reductions strategies over steak. Uchita is also doing the international circuit, for 20 years now, but he is clearly frustrated and he wrote that frustration down. “A small section of empowered people have the power to determine poverty eradication policies”, while “many of them have never missed a meal.” He describes the growing gap between what the mass of poor people actually feels, even physically, and how their supposed priorities are usually discussed. For Uchita, “the UNO is a white elephant”. He joins the chorus from the South by claiming that “The responsibilities of climate offenders should no longer be prolonged through hypocritical negotiations, and the debtors of the earth should be brought to justice without any further delay.” His book sometimes resembles a long flaming speech full of slogans and it is rather short on details, but Uchita's shouting is probably a good reflection of the way more and more people from the South feel. His book gives a better idea about what the poor really aspire.
Meanwhile, a group of central and eastern European NGOs has made it clear what their aspirations are. They launched a campaign to persuade policy makers that capping resource use must become a central plank of environmental policy. Hungary-based, and ANPED-member, CEEweb for Biodiversity argues that increasing consumption is at the heart of current problems such as climate change. Addressing sustainability issues individually has failed, it says, because the underlying causes are unsustainable consumption, cheap fossil fuels, “and more underlying drivers like inequality, belief in material values and in continuous GDP growth.” Putting limits on resource use would provide a more holistic response, it argues. The group set as aims for the campaign by 2012 to persuade all decision makers to realize that capping resource use is essential and by 2014 to see that “relevant measures” are taken. CEEweb for Biodiversity launched the campaign this week at a kick-off meeting of the Resource Cap Coalition in Europe. However, some communities are not waiting for the usual 'decision makers' to come out and start the transition...
We're rounding up with the rounding up of an interesting project. On the 21th November, Civil Society Engagement with Ecological Economics (CEECEC) published a last newsletter that summarizes some of the results of this two-year project. This coalition of CSOs with academics has produced no less than 14 detailed case studies on environmental conflicts worldwide, all collected in a practical handbook on ecological economics, available here. The handbook also contains an extensive glossary. Hyperlinks lead the interested reader further. In the wake of CEECECs success, the team around Juan Martinez Alier from the University of Barcelona, managed to start a follow-up project that is even bigger: Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT). This will kick off February 2011 and will bring 23 organizations around the world together in making a global map of environmental conflicts, among other things. As ANPED is one of the main partners of this project, more news on what's happing there will follow.