Green House Think Tank

Politics, they say, is the art of the possible. But the possible is not fixed. What we believe is possible depends on our knowledge and beliefs about the world. Ideas can change the world, and Green House is about challenging the ideas that have created the world we live in now, and offering positive alternatives.

The problems we face are systemic, and so the changes we need to make are complex and interconnected. Many of the critical analyses and policy prescriptions that will be part of the new paradigm are already out there. Our aim is to communicate them more clearly, and more widely.

The post-growth project

Tim Jackson at our joint event with the Green European Foundation on 19 December 2012
Our ongoing work to question the hegemonic idea of Economic Growth, formally launched in December 2012 by Tim Jackson and Dr Hermann Ott of the Bundestag, continues in a series of publications and events on the theme of the Post-Growth Project. We plan to publish a book bringing together our work on this theme in the autumn of this year.

Meanwhile, we are pleased to announce the next event in this project:

'Politics after the End of Growth'

House of Commons, London, 30 April, 6.30-8.30 pm

Green House will hold a report launch and debate as part of the 'People's Parliament' series in the House of Commons on 30 April. The event will be chaired by Michael Meacher, MP, and will feature a presentation by Prof. Andrew Dobson of his Green House paper 'Politics after the end of growth' (part of the Green House 'Post-Growth Project'). The discussion with the audience will then be kicked off by comments from Molly Scott Cato of Green House and Caroline Lucas, MP. More details are available here, where you can also register.

'Greening the EU - is it possible?'

Report launch and debate, Europe House, London, 14 February

On 14 February Jean Lambert MEP hosted the launch of the latest Green House Report "Greening the EU" by Professor Alex Warleigh-Lack. The event was jointly organised by Green House and the Green European Foundation, and there was a showing of GEF's "Creating a People's Europe" video. You can see a video of the event here.

In the lead up to the event we asked two questions. Is the EU just for capitalists? Can it really help in the transition to a sustainable way of life? We suggested that Alex Warleigh-Lack would answer no to the first and yes to the second.

On the first point Alex freely acknowledged corporate control and influence over the EU. But Alex made three points. First the sheer size of the EU makes it potentially the only political unit that can challenge the power of big business. Second, we should not forget, as many in the UK do, the importance of the non-economic founding purposes of the EU in bringing peace to Europe and acting as a guarantor of democracy and civil liberties. Third, while it is easy to be pessimistic about the EU there are smaller pragmatic things worth pressing, such as greater powers for the Parliament,

On the transition to a sustainable way of life, Alex argued that while the EU was far from perfect, it was both in the lead internationally on most environmental matters, notably greenhouse gas emissions, and was ahead of most of its member states, including currently, the UK. Moreover there is scope, through Article 11 of the Treaty founding the European Union to put the environment at the heart of all EU policy. Two huge policy areas, trade and agriculture, are exclusively within EU competence and states can do little on their own. Yet trade can be used to impose ecological standards both within but also beyond the EU, and the Common Agricultural Policy could be used to create a more self-sufficient and ecologically sound agriculture.

You can download Alex's report Greening the EU (pdf, 710 K) here.

You can download copies of our most recent reports on the Recent Publications page or find out who is involved on the Green House People page. Please also see who is supporting us on the page about our Advisory Group or check out our influences at Find Out More.

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Coming Up:

We are forging international links: for example, with the new Post Growth Alliance (more details to follow), and with the new French think tank Institut Momentum. Here is their stirring 'mission statement', as translated by Green House:

"Our starting point is the realization that we are living at the end of the period of greatest material abundance ever known in human history. This abundance rests on temporary sources of concentrated, cheap energy. Today, accumulated energy and ecological debts are catching up with us - bombs ready to explode. This century's generations must prepare for this backlash by becoming less dependent on non-renewable resources, and by strengthening networks of solidarity in human communities. The wind of change is here. The fire of consumerism is down to its last embers. The historical moment in which we are living requires a different way of thinking. Quietly, an informal movement comprising committed citizens, communities, businesses and elected officials has begun the transition to a post-carbon world. These early actors are working to reduce their consumption, to produce food and energy locally, to invest in the local economy, to rehabilitate knowledge and preserve local ecosystems. Their motivations are varied: mitigating climate change, preserving the environment, food security, local economic development. The essence of these efforts, however, is the same: all recognize that the world is changing, business-as-usual based on the idea that the growth of production and consumption can and should continue indefinitely, no longer works. The global crisis of natural, energy and economic systems forms the fabric of our unique epoch. As a response, we are convinced of the need to develop transitions towards post-oil societies, societies of restraint and moderation.

The Institut Momentum serves as a laboratory of ideas on the issues of hyperindustrial society and the transitions needed to cushion the social impact of the end of oil."

Have a look too at articles by Green House Authors in the Green European Journal, for example Anne Chapman on Science here or Tom Lines on Food here. You can access the Green European Journal as a whole here.

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