Green House Gases

Green House Gases are a less academic look at issues relevant to the work of Green House.

The centenary of the outbreak of World War I brought a severe outbreak of historical and occasionally hysterical rhetoric about the EU's origins and its role as the guarantor of peace in Europe. In 'What’s the point of the EU? The World War I Centenary and the myth of the EU’s ‘peace mission’', Ray Cunningham questions the foundational myth of the European project, and asks if the EU can rediscover a contemporary purpose by re-examining its past. Download it here: What's the point of the EU? (pdf, 237 K)

As part of our 'Post-Growth Project', Bill Blackwater addresses the key question ‘'Why do capitalist economies need to grow?' (pdf, 278 K) in a provocative essay which argues that growth is essential to capitalism and that therefore anybody who believes we need to abandon growth as a political goal must accept that this means we need to abandon capitalism. This is hotly-debated territory in the Green movement, and we hope and anticipate that this essay will provoke some responses. Let us know where you agree and where you disagree.

In 'A Shorter Leash: Ideas for reforming the banking sector' Thomas Lines applies common sense to the banking crisis. Drawing on his own experience, he asks what are the important functions of banks for most of their customers. He identifies these as safeguarding money, carrying out transactions and making straightforward business and personal loans. He then suggests that banks should be restricted to these basic functions, and simply not be involved in the risky activities with derivatives or interbank lending for example that created the banking crisis. Download A Shorter Leash: Ideas for reforming the banking sector (pdf, 149 K) here.

Hugh Small's new gas, 'When businessmen fear growth', is a bit of a departure for Green House, in that none of our previous contributors have had a background in strategic management consultancy. Yet Hugh's piece reminds us that perpetual growth is no more the inevitable future of an individual company than it is of a biological organism. Many companies reach maturity, and may have long periods creating wealth even while declining gracefully in size. Could it be that whole economies in developed countries are like that? Download When businessmen fear growth (pdf, 300 K) here.

The central cause of the Eurozone crisis is the insistence on a single currency and hence a single interest rate across 17 highly diverse national economies, themselves made up of very diverse regional and local economies. The stranglehold of the single currency is generating socially and politically dangerous pressure which leads us to be obvious answer: loosen the straitjacket and allow the patient to breathe. In this gas Molly Scott Cato argues that this can be achieved by abandoning the idea of a single currency; she argues that a sustainable and just economy needs a diversity of currencies for different purposes. Download Imagining Diversity: Moving from Monopoly Money to a Multi-Layer Currency World (pdf, 59 K) here.

Many in the green movement are fascinated by the internet, and the possibilities it creates for shared working outside the normal economy. In this gas Jonathan Kent argues that an entire new Fourth Sector is being created, which is not confined to the internet, but which is characterised by a shared system of production and use. But just like the medieval commons, these new commons are threatened by enclosure, and we must fight for their preservation almost as soon as they are created. Download The Fourth Sector (pdf, 135 K) here.

Everyone in the green movement agrees that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions need to be controlled and brought down. But there is considerable debate as to how that can best be done – whether by market based systems like the EU carbon emissions trading scheme, more downstream measures like individual carbon quotas and/or rather more indirect systems such as carbon taxation. Many (Zero Carbon Britain and the Transition movement for example) advocate combinations of reducing demand (power down) and shifting supply to renewables (power up). In this gas Gerry Wolff and Oliver Tickell argue that there is another way, which is to control greenhouse gas emissions at source. Download Turn off Greenhouse gases at source (pdf, 125 K) here.

In a gas on nuclear power David Toke, an energy policy expert from Birmingham University, highlights the collapse of the Government’s efforts to promote a major programme of construction of nuclear power stations. The failure of the Government’s proposed nuclear construction programme has occurred since it emerged that nuclear power is financially uncompetitive, even on the terms of the Government’s own proposals, with technologies such as wind and solar. Nuclear advocates are now reduced to begging the Treasury for a blank cheque to save just one project. Download Britain's Disappearing Nuclear Power (pdf, 190 K) here.

Just before the Rio+20 conference we published a gas showing how the UK's greenhouse gas emissions have in fact been rising in recent years rather than falling, as the figures quoted by the government for the purposes of the Kyoto Treaty show. Brian Heatley has analysed the government's own statistics, and integrated them with earlier work by Dieter Helm and the Stockholm Environment Institute to show that the UK's claims are misleading. Download Greenhouse gases (pdf, 215 K) here.

2013 marked the 300th anniversary of the first use of the term 'sustainability' in its ecological sense, though it did not establish itself as a key term of global economic analysis until the 1980s. However, the dilution, abuse and downright theft of the term have meanwhile gone so far that many Greens believe it has lost all practical value. Ray Cunningham argues that the term is invaluable and irreplaceable, and that we must fight to renew and reclaim it. As a first step we need to know where it came from, so this essay is not only a timely political intervention but also a fascinating slice of European cultural history going back to medieval Christian theology by way of the Apollo lunar missions, German forestry and silver mining around 1700, Spinoza, Descartes and 15th century Venice. Download Reclaiming Sustainability (pdf, 230 K) here.

In true festive spirit our Gas, How to relate ourselves to future people: Justice or love?, launched around Christmas time, argues for a rethink of the basis upon which we seek to defend the future. Usually, such defence is sought via the concept of 'justice for future generations'. Green House Chair Rupert Read argues for the radical substitution of care/love as the basis, instead. Download Justice or Love? (doc, 57 K) here.

Defensive Localism or Creative Localisation? finds Molly Scott Cato uneasily sharing a bed with Eric Pickles. Have the Conservatives stolen the Greens clothes? Are we all localisers now? Molly finds that the reverse is the case: the Conservative policies of localisation are in fact a defensive response to a destructive global economy they are unwilling to contain. Localisation, by contrast is an empowered route to a secure and sustainable future. Download Localism or Localisation (pdf, 65 K) here.

Political historian Andrew Pearmain kicked off the series with his own article called Progressive Austerity. He asks if it's possible to make social progress in times of economic austerity. He looks at the record of Stafford 'Austerity' Cripps as Chancellor in Attlee's post-war government, the 'social contract' negotiated between the Callaghan government and the TUC in the 1970s, and the final defeat of 'social democratic consensus' by Thatcherism in the following 30-odd years. Two crucial policy questions emerge. Firstly, how can we share out work so that everyone feels engaged in society? Secondly, can we find a way out of capitalist crisis that doesn't rely on yet more pointless consumerism and environmentally and socially destructive 'growth'?

Download Progressive Austerity here. (pdf, 105 K)


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