A critical review and considerations: Green economy, what is it?


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A presentation held by Harald Svedrup at the Green Economy Workshop in Stockholm 10-11/2 2014.

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A critical review and considerations: Green economy, what is it?

  1. 1. A critical review and considerations: Green economy, what is it? Shaping society to serve sustainability — minor adjustments or a paradigm shift? Trying to think as if the results mattered…. Professor Harald Sverdrup Chemical Engineering, Lund University, 221 00 Lund, Sweden Harald.sverdrup@chemeng.lth.se
  2. 2. Growth, de-growth and sustainability Exponential growth Overshoot and contraction Approaching dynamic stability Overshoot and collapse Approaching Steady state
  3. 3. Options available 1. 2. 3. 4. …make more with growth in resource use …make more with the same resource use …make the same with less resource use …make less with significantly less resource use We talk about 4, hope for 3, try to get 2 and end up with 1
  4. 4. Running out of everything at the present speed of consumption Fossil fuels Phosphorus Iron Copper Figure 1. If we go on extracting metals, phosphorus or fossil fuels like we do now, we will in the worst case run out of them. Before that, they will get expensive. From Sverdrup et al. (2013).
  5. 5. Renewable energy technologies need a lot of metals
  6. 6. Energy Society Metals and materials Population Food Everything is linked Agricultural land and soils
  7. 7. Wealth, resources and the trophic levels in the human ecosystem Mr l ai s t a e Ery ng e Wh et a l W o r k Pp el oe Ps os hp r o hu Fd o o Ci a n i i zi v t l o C t iy ra t ei v
  8. 8. Human ecosystem
  9. 9. Remember Tainter’s syndrome
  10. 10. The basic Ehrlich equation Impact = P * A * (1-XR) * E • P is population size, the number of consumers; • A is affluence or net consumption per capita; • XR is the degree of recycling of the amount supplied to society, depending on technology and organization; • E is the resource efficiency of producing the affluence A, depending on technology.
  11. 11. The world description is incomplete • Thermodynamics forbids growth forever; – GROWTH IS OVER • The issues of future generations and intergenerational issues needs to be addressed • Address systems overshoot • The banking system and financial system description is naïve and lacking in understanding • Big business is totally out of control from a perspective of government and parliaments
  12. 12. The systems dimension is missing • There is no systems analysis of the whole. • Do connect simultaneously; – energy, metals, materials, – population dynamics, soils, food, – social resilience, social values. • Present economic models, econometrics and economic equilibrium modelling are gravely dysfuntional. – consistently fail on field tests – lack prediction capability – correlation has been systematically mistaken for causality.
  13. 13. Building completely new models: Sustainable Germany by 2040 Dynamic Integrated Assessment Model being built 2014-2016. Models the world trade, major resources, population dynamics and economics in 38 countries/regions, for 60 major commodities and 20 different services.
  14. 14. The proposal • Good start, many good points have been made • Such a project is absolutely necessary. • The economic understanding is simple and and still has some faulty assumptions • The proposal has essential and necessary parts, but is insufficient in design and scope
  15. 15. Research tools needed • Use systems analysis thoroughly throughout the project. Use the systems insights to create new models for a sustainable economy • Use integrated assessment modelling methods to analyse the past, do scenarios and predict future possible outcomes to design the path to sustainable society. • Have a synthesizing group from day 1 that are seasoned hands-on systems analysts
  16. 16. Conclusions specified • The proposal has some taboos and blind spots • Needs to – Connect the whole system – discuss the time horizon and the moral challenge of setting time-to-doom – address population, demographic shift and population size management – Include international trade, derivatives and speculation – include corruption, nepotism, lack of democracy and abuse of power
  17. 17. Research tools needed • Use visions of a goal for backcasting from those goals • Engage the policy and government level properly • Think about how to create real paradigm shift • Use researchers that dare take part in real change and be politically incorrect • The role of learning, education and shaping values, norms and attitudes