02 07-Joan Martinez-Alier The alliance between the Environmental Justice movements of the South, and the small Degrowth movement in the North
Joan Martinez-AlierSummer School Env Justice ICTA UAB 2012The alliance between theEnvironmental Justicemovements of the South,and the small Degrowthmovement in the North
Social Metabolism• Energy cannot be recycled, therefore even an economy that would not grow but that would use large amounts of fossil fuels, would need “fresh” supplies coming from the commodity frontiers.• The same applies to materials, which in practice are recycled only to some extent (like copper, aluminium, steel or paper).• When the economy grows, the search for materials and energy sources is of course even greater.
Social MetabolismThere is “accumulation by dispossession” (Harvey,2003) or Raubwirtschaft (as geographers called it100 years ago, e.g. Jean Brunhes),and there is “accumulation through contamination”,meaning that profits increase by the ability todispose of the “effluents of affluence” and otherwaste (such as CO2) at zero or low cost.This does not indicate so much a market failure as a(provisional) cost-shifting success
The potential alliance of southern EJOs with the Degrowth movement in the NorthCommon perspective against the hegemonyof economic accounting in favour ofpluralism of values,defence of human rights, indigenousterritorial rights, and the Rights of Nature,feminist Neo-Malthusianism, recognition of environmental liabilities and the climate debt, the critique of ecologically unequal exchange because the export trade in commodities goes together with socio- environmental damage.
TRENDS: loss of biodiversity• 20 years after the 1992 UN Rio de Janeiro conference 1992, the EU and UN objective of halting the loss of biodiversity by the year 2010 has not been achieved and it has been ditched in practice.• The HANPP (human appropriation of net primary production) puts increasing pressure on biodiversity. (Tree plantations, agro-fuels, feedstuffs for cattle and pigs, land grabbing…).
UN rhetoric• In Rio 1992, “sustainable development”• In Rio + 20, in 2012, “green economy” improved human well-being and social equity, while reducing environmental risks and scarcities• In Rio + 40 in 2032, “sustainable economy”?• In Rio + 60 in 2052, “green development”?• Meanwhile …
TRENDS• Biodiversity loss is sometimes seen as a market failure to be corrected by suitable pricing. At other times bad governance, unsuitable institutions, and neoliberal policies are blamed.• However, the main underlying cause of the loss of biodiversity is the increased social metabolism of the human economy.• This would be similar under Keynesian social- democratic policies, or indeed under communist economic systems, if the technologies and levels of population and per capita consumption were as those of today.
TRENDS: increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere• Until 2007 emissions of CO2 were increasing by 3% per year. After a halt in 2008-09, they are now bound to increase again unless there is economic degrowth. They should decrease as soon as possible by 50% according to the IPCC.• To the failure of the Kyoto agreement of 1997 (not ratified by the USA) was added the lack of agreement on emission reductions in Copenhagen in December 2009, in Cancun in 2010, in Durban in 2011 at the COP (conference of polluters).
TRENDS• CO2 concentration was about 300 ppm when Arrhenius (1895) wrote about the enhanced greenhouse effect; it is now reaching 400 ppm. The yearly increase is 2 ppm. Little is done in practice to reverse this trend.• Most CO2 emissions by the economy are from burning fossil fuels. Peak oil in the Hubbert curve is now near. Natural (and shale?) gas peak extraction perhaps in thirty-forty years.• This means more burning of coal although the production of CO2 per unit of energy from coal is larger than for oil and gas.
TRENDS: towards degrowth in richeconomics leading to a steady state?Taking into account other trends like the drop inthe availability of many edible species of fish, thespread of nuclear energy and its militaryproliferation, and the approaching “peakphosphorous”,it is time to go back to the debates of the1970s on the desirability of a steady-stateeconomy in rich countries, and indeed of aperiod of degrowth (décroissance,decrescita) in terms of the use of energy andmaterials in the economy.
Debates of the 1970s on GDP, stationary state, degrowth• People refer to Stiglitz/Sen in 2009 as intellectual forces behind the critique of GDP. Travesty of facts.• From the 1970s, Georgescu-Roegen, Roefie Hueting, Herman Daly… already did this (and battled Stiglitz and Solow). And Sicco Mansholt.• And André Gorz, Ivan Ilich… or feminist ecological economists like Marilyn Waring’s Counting for nothing (1988).
Peak population: love one anothermore, and do not multiply so much• One welcome trend is the rapid decrease in the rate of growth of the human population.• Peak population, probably at 8.5 billion in 2045. Then, some degrowth.• The debates between Malthusians and Marxists, and between Malthusians and economists who favour population growth, are still relevant today as also the doctrines of feminist Neo-Malthusians of 1880-1920.
One favourable trend• Time for acknowledging Neo- Malthusianism of the radical, feminist type of 1880-1920 (Emma Goldmann, Madeleine Pelletier, Maria Lacerda de Moura).• Depopulation studies, as a growing academic subject.
Malthusianism of T.R. Malthus (1798)Population undergoes exponential growthunless checked by war and pestilence, or bychastity and late marriages. Food grows lessthan proportionately to the labour input,because of decreasing returns. Hence,subsistence crises.To improve the situation of the poor wasuseless because they immediately have morechildren.
Varieties of Neo-Malthusianism• NEO-MALTHUSIANISM OF 1900.- Human populations could regulate their own growth through contraception. Women’s freedom was required for this, and desirable for its own sake. Poverty was explained by social inequality but “conscious procreation” was needed to prevent low wages and pressure on natural resources. This was a successful bottom-up movement in Europe and America against States and Churches. (In S. India, E K Ramaswamy, “Periyar”: anti-caste, anti-religious Neo Malthusian).• NEO-MALTHUSIANISM AFTER 1970.- A doctrine and practice sponsored by international organizations and some governments. Population growth is seen as a main cause of poverty and environmental degradation. Therefore States must introduce contraceptive methods, even without women’s prior consent.
THE ENVIRONMENTALISM OF THE POOR, and the EJOs• Another welcome trend is the growth of the environmentalism of the poor and of indigenous people.• Activists and communities at the commodity frontiers are sometimes able together with EJOs and their netowrks to stop extraction of minerals and destruction of habitats and human livelihoods.
The environmentalism of the poor• They exercise the right to previous consent under Convention 169 of ILO applied to indigenous communities, or they introduce institutions such as local referendums on mining (as in Esquel and Tambogrande)• or develop new plans for leaving fossil fuels in the ground as in the Yasuní oilfields in Ecuador.• Successful attempts have been made to bring to court Shell for what it does in the Niger Delta or Chevron-Texaco for what it did in Ecuador.• Women are often in the lead in such movements.
Kalinganagar, Orissa, monument to those killed on 2 Jan.06 defeding their land against TATA photo 2 Jan 2007: Leah Temper, UAB
Texaco – in the northern Amazonia of Ecuador Texaco (Chevron) extracted 1.500 Milllion barrels of oil La selva es nuestro hospital … from 1965 to 1990. To save costs, the company threw the “extraction water” to ponds that frequently overflow, and which were not lined to prevent seepage. Judge Zambrano’s decision of 14 Febr. 2011 quotes Chevron- Texaco’s sources recognizing over 15 000 million galons.la selva es nuestro mercado … Gas has been flared, but (different to the Delta of the Niger) this has not been a matter of controversy in the court case. Many indigenous groups living in the forest suffered very much: Cofanes, Secoyas... Two groups (Tetetes i Sansahuari) went extint. Settlers were attracted by the roads openened by the oilla selva es nuestra universidad … company, they also suffered from pollution. The court case has been supported by both indigenous and settler populations. One main leader of the Frente is Luis Yanza, and the local lawyer is Pablo Fajardo, both from settlers (colonos) families. Fotos: KS, LS a Oil in Ecuador. A human energy story (H.Quante), www.texacotoxico.org
The Chevron-Texaco case in Ecuador, the Shell case in Nigeria…• What were the real costs of oil extracted in Ecuador by Texaco (now Chevron) between 1965 and 1990? What are the real costs of oil extracted by Shell in the Niger Delta since the 1970s?• Both companies have offered a few million dollars from time to time for remediation, but both are now involved in court cases where the costs are assessed (by the plaintiffs and/or the judges) in billions of dollars.
The items in the compensation in the Texaco Chevron case• USD 600 million for cleaning up groundwaters• USD 5.396 million to clean up the soils in and around the wastewater ponds (based on the area in question).• USD 200 million (10 million per year for 20 years) to recuperate flora and fauna• USD 150 million to bring drinkable water into the area.• USD 1.400 millones for damages which cannot be repaired such as lost health• USD 100 million for cultural damages to indigenous groups and for “ethnic restoration”• USD 800 million to improve public health in the area.• Then, 10% on top of the above sums was granted to the Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia for management expenditures.
A reasonable sentence• It goes beyond “strict” liability (objective damage), there is culpability, without any admittance of guilt by Chevron-Texaco• There was great environmental and social damage, incuding irreparable damage. A relatively small expenditure could have been done easily to avoid risks.• A fine of USD 9.5 billion (or double, if the company did not apologize) is large, it will make some impact on the company, but it does not bankrupt the company.
Will environmental justice be done?• I would like environmental justice to be done against transnational companies in overseas territories, and also against rich states in the climate justice issue.• Instead, Lawrence Summers´ principle is applied as a matter of course to resource extraction or waste disposal.• Nevertheless, for the analyst, if justice is not done, this is also interesting. It supports the idea that the economy regularly achieves cost-shifting succeses.• So-called “externalities” should be the main topic of study for students of economics. What is not counted in money terms is possibly more important than what is counted in money terms.
Why the increasing number of ecological distribution conflicts?• The increased social metabolism causes resource extraction conficts (fossil fuels, other minerals, biomass) and also transport conflict and waste disposal conflicts.• The main waste disposal conflict is related to the excessive amounts of greenhouse gases. Who is the owner of the atmosphere and the oceans as dumping places for carbon dioxide? How to achieve Climate Justice?
Conflicts on resource extraction, on transport, on waste disposal• Resource extraction: mining conflicts, fossil fuels,biomass (paper, biomass for agrofuels, fisheries…)• Transport – new roads, etc (e.g. IIRSA in Latin America and the Brazilian public works “empreiteiras”)• Waste disposal, greenhouse gases, also shipbreaking, e-waste exports… (Basel treaty)
Methods for the study of Social Metabolism• Increased Material Flows (in tons)• Increased energy flows (and decreasing EROI)• Increased flows on “virtual water” in exports of soybeans, ethanol, cellulose…• Increased HANPP, including the “embodied HANPP”
Political Ecology• From case-studies we should move to producing inventories and maps of ecological distribution conflicts (as J F Gerber on tree plantation conflicts, in GEC, 2011), drawing on the activist knowledge of the EJOs.• This is what the EJOLT project, 2011-15, will do, www.ejolt.org
Minería de oro: Yanacocha, Perú (foto: BRL, julio 09)
REACTIONS & PROPOSALS• In Peru, e.g., new environmental justice organizations (CONACAMI), new movements like Tierra y Libertad (Land and Freedom) with Marco Arana.• In Ecuador, a new post-extractivist proposal (Alberto Acosta), the Yasuni ITT.• In Latin America, Africa, claims for the repayment of the Ecological Debt (as in Copenhagen Dec. 2009).
YASUNIZANDO: The Yasuni ITT proposal• Ecuador proposed in 2007 to leave oil in the ground (850 million barrels) in the Yasuni ITT field – to respect indigenous rights, keep biodiversity, avoid carbon emissions.• They ask for partial outside compensation, 3.600 M US$ – about one half of lost revenues.• The Trust Fund under UNDP administration was set up in August 2010. Investments would go for energy transition and social investments.• This is an initiative to be imitated. We cannot burn all the oil, gas and coal in the ground at the presentr speed because of climate change. How to select the places where it is best to keep oil, gas or coal in the ground? Are all values commensurable?
The GDP of the Poor• In the TEEB project (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) 2008-11, sponsored by UNEP, the idea of the GDP of the poor was introduced (based on experience in India).• People who are poor cannot buy clean water (when the water is polluted by mining companies), cannot acquire a new place to live when they are displaced by a dam. Their losses are unaccounted for.• Therefore they complain. This is the Environmentalism of the poor and the Indigenous.
The Niyamgiri hill in Orissa issacred to the Dongria Kondh.It was threatened by bauxitemining by the Vedantacompany from London.We could ask the DongriaKondh: How much for yourGod? How much for theservices provided by yourGod?
Niyamgiri sal forestPhoto by Leah Temper, UABJanuary 2007
Valuation Languages• Who has the right (or the power) to simplify complexity and impose one language of valuation?• Incommensurability of values against imposed commensuration, are at the root of ecological economics (JMA, Ecological Economics, 1987).• Going back to the Socialist Calculation Debate of the 1920s-30: Otto Neurath vs. Von Mises and Hayek.
From activism to public policy and to science: the Ecological Debt
The Climate Debt• Not only the Climate Justice activists, also many governments of relatively poor countries now claim the repayment of the ecological debt, a slogan first raised in Latin America among the EJOs in 1991.• The United States, the European Union and Japan do not acknowledge this debt. However, in Copenhagen in December 2009 at least 20 heads of government or ministers explicitly mentioned the ecological debt (or climate debt) in their speeches, some using also the loaded word “reparations”.
The Climate Debt• Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, said that "admitting responsibility for the climate crisis without taking necessary actions to address it is like someone burning your house and then refusing to pay for it… It is entirely unjustifiable that countries like Bolivia are now forced to pay for the crisis• … Our glaciers dwindle, droughts become ever more common, and water supplies are drying up. Who should address this? To us it seems only right that the polluter should pay, and not the poor. We are not assigning guilt, merely responsibility. As they say in the US, if you break it, you buy it."
The Climate DebtThe background to Solon’s speech wasTodd Stern’s statement (as US negotiator)at a press conference in Copenhagen on10th Dec. 2009: "We absolutely recognizeour historic role in putting emissions in theatmosphere up there… But the sense ofguilt or culpability or reparations - I justcategorically reject that."
The Climate Debt: Bhagwati’s rejoinder• A rejoinder to this controversy came from an unexpected author, economist Jagdish Bhagwati (Financial Times, 22 Febr. 2010).• Apparently unaware of the activist and academic debate on the ecological debt since 1991, he wrote that the U.S. in addressing domestic pollution created the Superfund legislation in 1980 after the Love Canal accident that requires hazardous waste to be eliminated by the offending company.• “This tort liability is also "strict", such that it exists even if the material discharged was not known at the time to be hazardous (as carbon emissions were until recently). In addition, the people hurt can make their own tort claims”.
The Climate Debt: Bhagwati’s rejoinder (cont.)• Rejecting this legal tradition in U.S. domestic pollution, Todd Stern, the principal U.S. negotiator, refused to concede any liability for past emissions (…) Evidently, the U.S. needs to reverse this stand. Each of the rich countries needs to accept a tort liability which can be pro rata to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change- estimated share of historic world carbon emissions.• Since the payment would be on the tort principle, the idea that the funds would substitute for normal aid would be outrageous: you do not take away the pension of a person who has won a tort settlement.”
Environmental Liabilities• Ecological Debts = Environmental Liabilities.• Sometimes liabilities can be translated into a money payment (compensatory and punitive) for damages. This is appropriate in a forensic context (Chevron, Shell).• Sometimes, it is difficult to put a money value – present value of damage to future generations?, to disappearing unknown species?• Oil spill by BP in Gulf of Mexico, red mud spill in Hungary, TEPCOS’s liabilities after Fukushima nuclear disaster…
From science to activism: new proposals.Sustainable peasant agriculture cools down the earth
The EROI of agriculture and the Via Campesina In the1970s, taking up H. T. Odum’s view of modern agriculture as “farming with petroleum”, researchers did accounts of the energetics of agricultural systems. Pimentel (1973) in Science showed that the energy output-input ratio of corn production in Iowa or Illinois was lower than that for the old milpa corn production system of rural Mexico. From an economic point of view, modern agriculture increased productivity per unit of labour and to some extent per hectare but from a physical point of view, it lowered the energy efficiency.
L’agricultura contadina rinfresca la terra• Via Campesina, a peasant and small farmer international coalition is now very much present in the climate change debate,• its thesis: “sustainable peasant agriculture cools down the earth”• an argument partly based on the fact that modern industrial agriculture is “no longer a producer of energy but a consumer of energy”. Studies on the EROI of agriculture (the energy return on energy input) since the 1970s back up this position.
Some final comments on theAlliance between the EJOs (enviromental justiceorganizations) and the smallDegrowth movement in the North
1st International Conference on Degrowth, Paris, April 2008 (http://www.degrowth.net/)
Publication from Paris April 2008 conference Special Issue, Journal of Cleaner Production (a journal of industrial ecology) 2010Crisis or Opportunity? Economic Degrowth for Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability Edited by F. Schneider, G. Kallis, J. Martinez-Alier• Editorial - Serge Latouche• Why environmental sustainability can most probably not be attained with growing production, Roefie Hueting• Energy transition towards economic and environmental sustainability: feasible paths and policy implications, Simone D’Alessandro Tommaso Luzzati Mario Morroni• Relax about GDP growth: implications for climate and crisis, Jeroen van den Bergh• Impact caps: why population, affluence and technology strategies should be abandoned, Blake Alcott…• 12 articles and book reviews (incl. Tim Jackson, Peter Victor…)
Finances and (De)-Growth• The economy has three levels (F. Soddy, 1926), the financial, the “productive”, and the ecological.• Debts increase exponentially, they can be paid only by economic growth (or by inflation, and by squeezing the debtors).• However, economic growth of the productive economy depends largely on the available energy and materials. “The entropy law and the economic process”, Georgescu-Roegen (1971).
www.degrowth.eu• Degrowth conference in Barcelona 26-29 March 2010 (500 activists and academics).• From activism to a research programme on the environmental, technological, demographic, social, socio-psychological aspects of “socially sustainable economic degrowth leading to a steady-state economy”. This largely overlaps with research on “socio-ecological transitions”• Special issues in Ecological Economics, Futures, Journal of Cleaner Production…
Not all debts will be paid• As we move into degrowth and then a steady state, not all debts will be paid.• Stupid excessive alarm about the end of the EU (which is needed to stop nationalisms is Europe). What is the problem with a re-structuring of the debt in Greece, Portugal…(I wrote two years ago)? No problem.
The Southern EJOs’ potential alliance with the small Degrowth movement in the North• Economic growth cannot be stopped in the South.• The alliance shares a common perspective against the hegemony of economic accounting in favour of pluralism of values, support for bottom up feminist neo- Malthusianism, defence of human rights, indigenous territorial rights, and the Rights of Nature, the recognition of environmental liabilities and the climate debt,• and the critique of ecologically unequal exchange because the export trade in commodities goes together with socio- environmental damage.
Final thought: Degrowth in London• In Jan. 2010 there was a small conference in on Degrowth (Décroissance) organized by Hali Healy and the NEF in The Hub, London.• A man from Oxfam blogged that Degrowth was continental nonsense. We need to open borders to exports from the South, he said. He didn’t grasp the concepts of ecologically unequal trade and ecological debt.• Oxfam is an admirable organization. But we call this attitude (Alf Hornborg’s term) “The White Consumers’ Burden”.
AppendixA comment on Tim Jackson’sProsperity without Growthand its similarities and differences with Degrowth
Coincidences and differences with Tim Jackson’s Prosperity without Growth• Stop growth in rich countries. Degrowth in energy and materials (and CO2 emissions) as a step towards Daly’s “steady state”.• Because of trend to increase labour productivity, non-growth means increase in unemployment. For TJ this is very important.• For TJ – promote “Cinderella” (or News from Nowhere) sector with low productivity but satisfactory and useful work. Make ecological investments of low profitability but labour intensive.• For Degrowth, main policy: Basic Citizens’ Income.• For both, Work Sharing is recommended.
TJ vs Degrowth• TJ: impossibility of growth by showing the implausible increase in carbon efficiency that would be required. He also mentions rebound effect. He does no emphasize biodiversity loss.• TJ acknowledges H. Daly but not NGR’s Démain la Décroissance (1979).• TJ almost unaware of K. Polanyi, A.Gorz, I. Illich, M.Mauss,M. Sahlins, S. Latouche… i.e. cultural critique from economic anthropology against the generalized market system.
T.J. unaware of critiques of development• From the 1970s, critiques by Arturo Escobar, Shiv Visvanathan, Ashish Nandy, Gustavo Esteva… Development means a uniform path. Serge Latouche belongs to this current.• Now, new voices in the South – Alberto Acosta, Eduardo Gudynas, “Buen Vivir”.• This parallels but it is different (and older) that the discussion on Easterlin paradox, the Kahneman critiques…
TJ vs Degrowth• TJ does not discuss Democracy and the Steady State. He writes for economists. GDP is silly and wrong, better use other indicators. This is agreed.• Then, for instance, we see that Cuba does better than expected by its GDP per capita with regard to infant mortality. USA does worse.• But no statistics on Cuban “life satisfaction” or “happiness”. Why? Is the Cuban economy desirable?• Instead, there is a lively discussion on Democracy / Autonomy in the Degrowth movement. TJ does not quote Castoriadis.
TJ vs Degrowth• TJ writes that “Degrowth is unstable”. This has been quoted with relish by the partisans of a “green economy” (which is the UNEP Rio+20 reincarnation of “sustainable development”).• TJ means that Degrowth leads to unemployment, therefore lack of effective demand, more unemployment, state expenditures for the unemployed, fiscal crisis of the state…• We know all this. Nobody is preaching Degrowth for ever. False debate between Degrowth and Steady State (going back to NGR excessive strictures against Hermand Daly).
TJ vs Degrowth: ecological macroeconomics and defaulting (to some extent) the debt• TJ is better than the Degrowth literature in his discussion of debt and money (although he does not quote F. Soddy). He is very innovative (with Peter Victor) in his post-Keynesian ecological macroeconomics without growth.• The Degrowth literature does not really engage with macroeconomics (beyond criticism of GDP).• However, TJ is politically careful: a) TJ is afraid to call for debt default or restructuring (cf. with Latouche’s advice to his Greek friends), b) he does not explain how an economy without a positive profit rate, a positive interest rate, and discounting, would work, and if it woud still be a capitalist economy.
TJ vs Degrowth: money• TJ talks about the money system (incuding Daly’s proposal of 100% reserve system for banks) but he does not take a cklear position himself. For instance, banking as a regulated public service.• The Degrowth literature is very keen on alternative local money systems, on barter systems, but they do not really discuss money is a world of interconnected states.
TJ and Degrowth:migration• NGR had a clear position on migration. It was a human right to live wherever you wanted to live.• TJ and the Degrowth movt. are not so outspoken. TJ does not mention migration. The Degrowth literature says nothing. And Herman Daly is against migration from South to North (this is linked to the Democracy and Degrowth / Steady State discussion, because allowing people to die in large quantities by preventing migration is not democratic).• One way out is to assume that a steady state or degrowing economy in the North would indeed leave more room for economic growth in the South and therefore would level our the enormous economic differences that exist at present.
TJ and Degrowth: on international trade and Ecological Debt TJ looks at flows of materials and energy, showing how the rich areas depends on cheap imports. Also, carbon intensity of exports from EU is larger than carbon intensity of imports.• Neither TJ nor Degrowth emphasize the movements of the South demanding environmental justice, complaining against ecologically unequal trade.• TJ mentions “ecological debt” but prefers not to frighten his readers, and he does not explain the activist and scholarly debates on the Ecological Debt (since 1991). But Latouche is not very good on this, either.
TJ vs Degrowth: on population• On population, TJ is perhaps too pessimistic – probably “peak population” reached in 2045 at 8.5 billion . This is good for the Steady State.• The Degrowth literature is not comfortable when discussion population. They do not want to be seen as “Malthusian”.• Instead, both TJ and Degrowth should build on F. d’Eaubonne’s ecofeminism, and on the radical, Neo- Malthusian feminism of 1900 (Emma Goldman, Madeleine Pelletier, Maria Lacerda de Moura).(In India, E.K. Ramaswamy, “Periyar”).