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Weizsäcker stockholm-april16-2012


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A presentation held by prof Ernst von Weizsäcker at the seminar "Towards a circular economy" arranged by Swedish think tank Global Utmaning and Stockholm Resilience Centre at Galleri 3, Kulturhuset, Stockholm.

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Weizsäcker stockholm-april16-2012

  1. 1. Towards a Circular Economy: Driving Forces and Obstacles –What Are the Policy Challenges? Stockholm, Kulturhuset, 16 April, 2012 Transforming the Global Economy Through 80%Improvements in Resource Productivity: How to Do It Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker Co-Chairman
  2. 2. What do we mean bySustainable Development?
  3. 3. Sustainable development means small ecological footprints and a high Human Development Index (HDI)10 Ecologica l footprints8 High HDI (hectares)64 The sustainability rectangle2 Small ecol. footprints 0 0.2 HDI 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
  4. 4. Alas, only one country currently populates the sustainability rectangle CubaSource:Global Footprints Network
  5. 5. If 7 b people would insist havingfootprints like US Americans, we would need 5 planets Earth
  6. 6. Energy is about half of the footprints.It is also the limiting factor for the circular economy. And it has direct environmental effects, notably global warming and nuclear radiation.
  7. 7. We seem to be destabilizing Greenland. (Freshwater coverage during Summers 1992 and 2002) .
  8. 8. Sea level rise can take catastrophic speed!(after Michael Tooley. Global sea-levels: floodwaters mark sudden rise. Nature 342 (6245), p 20 - 21 1989)
  9. 9. Areas in red are under water if theGreenland ice breaks off. How about Stockholm? Bangladesh Florida
  10. 10. The Fukushima disaster looks like the final blow to nuclear energy.The Tsunami causes a nuclear desaster The radioactive cloud after 7 days ( NTV Japan) (Blog
  11. 11. So far, GDP goes with CO2 intensity.
  12. 12. We have to break this correlation, i.e. creating a Kuznets Curve of decarbonization. „rich and carbon free“
  13. 13. And then help poorer countries tunneling through. „rich and carbon free“
  14. 14. Renewable energies for decarbonization? They are fine in small sizes but can be nasty in large quantities.PV as large as airports (Saxony, Germany) Wind turbines,- do you want such neighbours? Hydrodams : no end of conflicts! Endless palmoil plantations (here in Malysia)
  15. 15. Let‘s calculate: if 1b people (the rich) achieve 20%new renewables, that‘s 1/35 of what you would need for 7b people on earth. Developing countries NIC‘s Old industrial- ized countriesAnd now imagine a 35fold increase of today‘s biofuelsplantations, wind power, hydopower, solar power. It‘s anecological nightmare!
  16. 16. In other words, decarbonization isjust not good enough. We shouldalso create a Kuznets Curve ofenergy consumption!
  17. 17. GDP also goes with Domestic Material Consumption (DMC)The picture is from the first Decoupling report ofthe Interntional Resource Panel
  18. 18. For DMC, too, we should create a Kuznets Curve.
  19. 19. … and assist developing countries to tunnel through
  20. 20. Creating the those newKuznets Curves, - that‘sthe agenda ofDecoupling.
  21. 21. In other words: a Green Kondratiev Cycle, after five brown Cycles. Biotech Energy productivity, IT renew. Energy. Cyclical economy TV, aviation, computers, Electricity, chemicals,cars Steel & railroads Mechanization
  22. 22. I come back to the GreenKondratiev in a moment.But what can we do for the short-cut for developing countries?
  23. 23. The best solution is per capita equal CO2 emission rights It was proposed by the Indian PM Manmohan Singh. It means the North would have to go shopping for emission rights in the South. But that was 5 years ago. Meanwhile India, like China, are no longer willing to go for it, saying they need more energy per capita than the old industrial countries.
  24. 24. Nevertheless, some kind of „carbonjustice“ approach is needed. It wouldmake it profitable in developing countriesto become very energy efficient and toturn to renewable energies.Efficiency technology would rapidlymigrate to the South. And hundreds ofplans for new coal power plants could bescrapped.
  25. 25. Back now to the technology task ofdecoupling prosperity from energy.Let us think bold about efficiency!
  26. 26. Imagine a bucketof water of 10 kg weightHow manyKilowatt- hoursdo you need to lift it from sea level to the top of Mount Everest?
  27. 27. 1 kwhThe answer is:One quarter of akilowatthour!(knowing that one watt-second is one Joule or oneNewton-meter; ¼ kwh is900.000 watt-seconds)
  28. 28. December, 2009 March, 2010 October, 2010 Bold efficiency thinking is at the heart of Factor Five
  29. 29. Another bold approach, also a Report to the Club of Rome, isThe Blue EconomyBuilding the Blue EconomyDas Buch10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs The Blue Economy - by Gunter Pauli. From over 2.000 innovations, he selected 100 that are published on a weekly basis at
  30. 30. A factor of five in the increase of resource productivity could pull or push most countries into sustainability!10 Ecol. Footprints (hectares per 8 person) High HDI 6 4 The sustainability rectangle 2 Small footprints 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 HDI
  31. 31. Superefficient cars Amory Lovins’ “Hyper-car”, or “Revolution”: 1,5 l/100kmToday’s fleet6-12 l/100km
  32. 32. “Passive houses”: a factor of ten more heat efficient
  33. 33. LED replacing incandescent bulbs: a factor of 10 Philips 7W Master LED Energy efficiency
  34. 34. From Portland cement to geopolymer cement (e.g. fly ashes from coal power plants). Energy efficiency
  35. 35. From 12 lane highways to bicycle centered cities Atlanta Copenhagen
  36. 36. Atlanta is 25 times larger than Barcelona, but has a smaller population Ich danke Geoffrey Heal für die Überlassung des Bildes
  37. 37. From endless business travel to telepresence meetings
  38. 38. From using water once to purifying (recycling) it
  39. 39. From flood irrigation to advanced drip irrigation Water efficiency (Source:
  40. 40. From excessive mining to the Cyclical Economy
  41. 41. Two moredragons have tobe confronted:The JevonsParadox, andA new UNCTADstudy on illusionsof green growth
  42. 42. The Jevons Paradox is also known as rebound effectWilliam Stanley Jevons in hisfamous book, The Coal Questionobserved that Englandsconsumption of coal soared afterJames Watt introduced his coal-fired steam engine, which greatlyimproved the efficiency of earlierengines.
  43. 43. The rebound effect is actually a very old phenomenon! The Neolithic Revolution: a hundredfold increase of ‚land efficiency‘, - followed by a hundredfold increase of population! Hunters-Gatherers (after a cave painting) Early agriculture
  44. 44. Ulrich Hoffmann demolishing green growth illusions
  45. 45. Based on Tim Jackson‘s ‚Prosperity Without Growth‘, Hofmannsees the need for a 21-fold ‚decarbonization‘ to reach climate goals.
  46. 46. How do we deal with the two dragons?The answer is twofold in terms of technology andbehaviour: efficiency and sufficiency… and simple/ one-fold in terms of policy:let prices do the job.
  47. 47. To understand the „power of prices“,let us look back into the history of the Industrial Revolution. Labour productivity increased twentyfold since 1850. It did so almost exactly inparallel with gross labour „prices“ (wages).
  48. 48. Not a surprise for wage negotiators: wages and labour productivity rose in parallel. This is a fifty years time-window from the United States
  49. 49. On resource prices, what you usually see is the alarm about rising prices
  50. 50. But put in a long term (200 years) perspective, resource prices were usually falling! Prices of industrial commodities & energy, in constant dollars 2000-2004
  51. 51. And don‘t fall for thePeak Oil illusion!TIME on 9th April:New breakthroughs areactually increasingglobal supplies.The reason: tolerancefor dirty operations issteadily increasing!
  52. 52. What I am proposing, therefore, is apolitical decision to artificially raiseenergy and other resource prices inparallel with documented efficiencyincreases, so that average expensesfor energy services would remainstable. (Some „life-line“ low pricescan be accepted for the poor.)
  53. 53. High energy prices need not hurt the economy. Japanblossomed during the 15 years of highest energy prices!
  54. 54. One lesson from this is: pioneers neednot wait for the slow ones.Also developing countries can benefitfrom gradually increasing domesticenergy prices.
  55. 55. For the material Circular Economy,rising energy prices would also serveas a big push.But additional measures areconceivable such as slowly risingcharges on mineral extraction.
  56. 56. Who would win, who would lose? (1. inside countries)Winning: IT, generally high tech; crafts; science;education; green businesses; railroads; leasing (allthe great ideas proposed by Walter Stahel!);maintenance; culture.Losing: air traffic; extractive industry, heavyindustry (some), development of urban sprawl,wasteful consumers.Some adjustments (eg revenue neutrality forvulnerable sectors of industry) can avoid losses.
  57. 57. Who would win, who would lose? (2. among countries)Winning: Europe, East Asia, developingcountries poor in natural resources. That issome 90% of the world population!Losing: USA, Canada, Australia, Russia,commodity exporting developing countries.
  58. 58. Red & orange: high per capita CO2 emissions, - the usual suspects.
  59. 59. I foresee, at the horizon, an alliance of the winners: Europe, Asia, Oceania and much of Africa and Latin America, on• real climate policy;• ecological price policies;• developing the 21st century technologies & habits.
  60. 60. In a world of basically scarce resources (and here I side with McKinsey‘s 2011 study),countries and companies pioneering efficiency (and sufficiency) will be the game winners.
  61. 61. Let me conclude:Decoupling prosperity from carbon intensity isdoable, both in the North and the South.North-South „carbon justice“ is indispensible.Prices should make the transition profitable.No need for pioneers to wait for the slow ones.