Green House Reports
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Towards Deep Hope – by John Foster
Facing up to climate reality clearly demands that we confront the future realistically. This essay is a conceptual exploration, conducted through reference to relevant policy issues, of what realism here could mean.
On one interpretation, it could mean recognising the compelling evidence that we have left it too late to save ourselves from climate disaster. But on another interpretation, it might be realistic to insist that we can never, even in extremis, rule out the transformative possibilities of human action. We could call hope inspired by such possibilities counter-empirical, since it refuses to be daunted by likelihoods, albeit dismaying, derived from past experience.
Counter-empirical hope, however, is protected by definition against merely contingent failure – if what is thus hoped for just happens not yet to have happened, we can always go on hoping. (Hence the constant tendency of such hope to slide into utopianism.) But – again, by definition – we can’t be hoping for anything unless we recognise some risk that it won’t happen. So what is risked in counter-empirical hope must be that we find ourselves up against necessary rather than contingent failure: and the domain of significant necessary failure in human affairs is that of tragedy, where destructive weaknesses are the inescapable concomitants of key life-strengths.
Active recognition that our climate plight is already tragic is the only way to keep honest the kind of hope on which we must now rely. That means not only escaping from the recently-popular and still solutions-oriented ‘wicked-problem’ framing of the issues, but also building tragic awareness into all practical policy thinking henceforth. If we can manage this, hope can still reach out for transformative possibility while remaining deeply and realistically grounded.
A Green Transition for the Isle of Wight
This Report, created for the Green European Foundation and with support from the Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation, develops a mathematical model for calculating the potential for new job creation from the introduction of a green economic and social transition at the local level. It will be of great interest to everyone involved in or thinking about local economic policy from a green and/or global perspective. Its authors are Jonathan Essex and Peter Sims. March 2017.
The Green Case For A Progressive Pact
This Green House pamphlet looks at the case for a progressive alliance and how Greens could benefit. It includes contributions from Molly Scott Cato MEP, Victor Anderson, Rupert Read, Jonathan Essex, and Sara Parkin. This briefing was written before the EU referendum and the economic and political turmoil which has followed. However we believe its analysis and conclusions still stand – and in fact have been made much more urgent by the possibility of an early general election, and by the current state of the Labour Party. We invite everyone who wants to see an alternative to continued Conservative government to join in the discussion about what that alternative can be.
Critiquing 'Common Cause'
Victor Anderson, Sam Earle and Rupert Read reflect and comment on the Common Cause report published in 2010. The report argued that political and NGO campaigns that seek to promote desirable pro-environmental behaviours inevitably appeal to cultural values through framing, thus affecting public responses to those campaigns. Read’s contribution to this report is very sympathetic to Common Cause, but makes some targeted criticisms especially of the legacy of the Schwarzian circumplex for Common Cause. Earle’s contribution makes more far-reaching criticisms of the Common Cause approach, invoking its own academic hinterland in order to do so. Finally, Anderson’s approach is the most critical, bringing in perspectives from political economy and political theory to question certain fundamental features of the approach.
An Assessment of Current Regulation of GMOs in the EU
Vesco Paskalev argues that the regulation of GMOs in the EU is a shambles. The main problem lies in a very narrow conception of risk and safety. All the emphasis is wrongly on laboratory tests, and evidence on the wider environmental effects is scant. Wider studies on the effects on consumption patterns or the cost pressures on non GM farmers are ignored. In addition, experts supplant the proper role of the political institutions, and the precautionary principle is rendered inoperative. Paskalev proposes specific legal amendments to remedy these faults.
Tackling our Housing Crisis
Everyone agrees housing is in crisis. This timely report from Green House challenges the conventional policy wisdom of ‘just build more homes.’ It argues that the most significant cause of the affordability problem is not shortage of supply but a high level of inequality combined with a dysfunctional financial system. Housing has become the preferred investment, rather than simply somewhere to live. Savings going into housing, and unsustainable mortgage lending have pushed up prices. Instead of relying on a huge and environmentally costly building programme, we should ensure that the existing housing stock is better used; control rents and increase security in the private rented sector; discourage the purchase of housing primarily as an investment; reduce regional inequalities; and provide more affordable homes. Buy report
How to Make Do and Mend our Economy: Rethinking Investment Strategies for Construction and Industry to meet the Challenge of Sustainability
In this highly original report, Jonathan Essex points out the little appreciated importance of restricting development of the built environment as an essential component of any true sustainability. Construction produces huge emissions and other ecological damage in itself. But it also literally builds greater consumption into our lifestyles; bigger houses mean both more and bigger televisions for example. Improving the efficiency of appliances is almost irrelevant faced with this pressure for expansion. Essex's report in particular challenges green champions of greater infrastructure expenditure to think again.
The Politics of Post-Growth by Andrew Dobson.
Much of the writing on a post-growth world is about economics. In this exciting and ground-breaking short essay Andrew Dobson considers the implications of the end of growth for politics. Dobson, Professor of Politics at Keele University argues that if the end of growth is to be planned, rather than unplanned and catastrophic, we need now to get onto a trajectory for a benign post-growth world. And that trajectory has six crucial pre-conditions: equality, democracy, a vibrant public sphere, localisation, feminism and the idea and practice of enough.
Post-growth Common sense by Rupert Read
Much of Green House’s Post-growth project has been about describing the post-growth world. But to get to that world we have to discover a better way of talking about it, a way of making it common sense. In this inventive and provocative essay Rupert Read addresses this problem, drawing on some of the latest thinking in political communications. Paradoxically he argues that the best way to talk about the post-growth economy may be to talk less about it.
Can't Pay, Won't Pay: Debt, the Myth of Austerity and the Failure of Green Investment by Molly Scott Cato
This report presents a liberating idea: the idea that we are not burdened down with unpayable debts that presage a decade of low growth, hard work and a miserable existence. Rather we live in a rich and vibrant society but one which is disfigured by an exploitative and iniquitous financial system. Green economist Molly Scott Cato argues that as a society, we need to face our debts head on and make an intelligent political decision about what to do about them, and that the decision to prioritise the repayment of debts no matter what the cost to public services is a political rather than an economic decision.
Greening the EU by Alex Warleigh-Lack
Is the EU just for capitalists? Can it really help in the transition to a sustainable way of life? In this provocative report, published on the eve of the European Parliament elections that will shape the future of all the EU institutions, Alex Warleigh-Lack argues ‘no’ to the first, and ‘yes’ to the second. After surveying the EU’s current green credentials and finding them in many ways wanting, Alex sets out a ‘greenprint’ for the EU based on ecological principles. The Report concludes by suggesting five priorities for Green politicians at EU-level after the 2014 elections.
The Paradox of Green Keynesianism by Molly Scott Cato
The main Green response to the economic crisis has been Green Keynesianism, as exemplified by various proposals for a Green New Deal. In this provocative report Molly Scott Cato explores the paradoxes inherent in a Keynesian approach, and reminds us that Keynes' own commitment to the 'money-motive' was highly qualified. In particular she suggests four alternative practical policy approaches, which draw on Keynesianism but within a genuinely sustainable framework.
Smaller but Better: Post-Growth Public Services by Andrew Pearmain and Brian Heatley
In this report Andrew Pearmain and Brian Heatley argue for a distinctively Green approach to public services which goes beyond simple opposition to austerity. They emphasise that the value of most public services lies in our essential biological nature, and that they are pre-requisites for the rest of the economy, not drains upon it. Moreover public services cannot be reduced to commodities, which is why the introduction of the market and privatisation are usually wrong. Recognising the limits to growth, the report calls for smaller, better public services, with greater local democratic control and a place for voluntary organisations with genuine independence.
Greens and Science: Why the Green Movement is not anti-Science by Anne Chapman
Greens’ opposition to nuclear power and genetically modified food does not mean that Greens are anti-science. In this report, Anne Chapman argues that the Green movement owes a great deal to science, and like scientists Greens tend to think that decisions should be made on the basis of rational arguments, by appeal to the evidence. However, they are also aware of the limits of science, both in the sense of the limits to its knowledge, and that science is not sufficient to tell us how to live. Greens oppose particular technologies, not science, because those technologies are risky, and because they have a different vision for how we should produce electricity and food.
Primary Commodity Prices and Global Food Security by Thomas Lines
In this report, commodities expert Thomas Lines shows what has really happened to food prices and farm incomes in recent years. Food prices have risen, but not faster than manufactures. However, agricultural inputs like fertilisers and oil have risen much faster. This has created a world crisis for farming, a crisis of reduced agricultural incomes, and an ageing farming population. The author argues that a new approach is needed, building on known methods – a greater variety of staple crops, traditional farming techniques and agro ecology – to create a food system which is economically as well as ecologically more resilient and sustainable.
Joined up Economics by Brian Heatley
Not only is the economy in crisis, but so is economics. Most economics deduces wrong conclusions from unrealistic premises about just a small part of human material activity. In this common sense account Brian Heatley uses real data to connect the UK’s economic performance to the wider environment, and through an analysis of the origins of inequality shows how the economy contributes to or undermines people’s happiness and security. He concludes by suggesting we face a materially poorer world, but perhaps nevertheless a better one. Download Joined up Economics here.
The paper refers to two Excel spreadsheets:
Download Business as Usual.
Download The Alternative Case.
Strangled by the Duopoly by John Hare and Rupert Read
John Hare and Rupert Read’s new report argues that any discussion of party funding that does not examine the wider crisis of UK democracy – including questions of electoral system, participation-rates and corporate power – is an exercise in deckchair-rearrangement. For this reason, this report goes beyond the narrow ‘traditional’ domain of party funding to consider the funding question in the context of the broader crisis. The public are being utterly consistent in seeking to end the corrupt culture of the big donors and to refuse to give further money to the governing parties that have ceased to represent anything more than a small minority of the population. John Hare and Rupert Read’s recommendations are consistent with that consistency........
Local Liquidity by Molly Scott Cato
All across the world local communities, like Bristol in the UK, are starting their own currencies to counter the problems caused by the financial crisis and the misallocation of money towards the gambling circuits of the casino economy and away from local economies. Molly Scott Cato frames the post-2008 financial crisis in terms of the failure of effective demand. Quantitative Easing has not only increased inequality, as indicated recently by the Bank of England, but has also created only ineffective demand. The report includes an authoritative account of the different types of local money that are in circulation across the world from Germany's hugely successful Chiemgauer to the currency issued by Banco Palmas in Brazil and Rotterdam's Nu-Spaarpas.
Offsetting Nature by Mike Hannis and Sian Sullivan.
New planning rules, currently being piloted, allow the environmental impacts of increased development to be offset by purchasing conservation credits from habitat banks. This ‘green economy’ measure is presented as reconciling economic growth with environmental protection. Mike Hannis and Sian Sullivan explain where this controversial idea has come from, before asking what effects it might have and who stands to gain from it. They argue that by encouraging us to think that one bit of nature is much like another, biodiversity offsetting undermines the unique place-based relationships between people and nature, moving us further away from ecological sustainability.
The Green House Post-Growth Project by Rupert Read
This paper introduces Green House’s ‘post-growth project,’ a new series of reports designed to show that an alternative to the false dichotomy between growth and austerity, is necessary, possible and desirable.
It is necessary because planetary limits will in any event end growth soon.
It is possible in that we believe (and the post-growth project reports will show) that we can now begin to plot a path to a post-growth world, and a vision of that world.
It is desirable because much about that world will actually be better than the world we now inhabit.
Free Universities! by Molly Scott Cato
The government claims that massive increases in student fees are needed to help eliminate the budget deficit this Parliament. Yet because of the student loans system, the effect on the deficit will be minimal. In this provocative paper, Molly Scott Cato argues that there are wider motives behind the increasing marketisation of the higher education system, and drawing on experience in a number of other countries, argues that there are alternatives which would do much less damage to the basic ideals of higher education.
Guardians of the Future by Rupert Read
A Green House report by Rupert Read, prepared as a discussion paper for the Alliance for Future Generations, whose members have agreed to work "to ensure that long-termism and the needs of future generations are brought into the heart of UK democracy and policy processes, in order to safeguard the earth and secure intergenerational justice." The proposal in this report is intended to do precisely that, through a modification to the architecture of Parliament.
The Dog that Didn't Bark by Thomas Lines
With the publication of the Vickers Report in September 2011 there has been much debate about how to prevent further banking crises. Much of this has ignored the historical context. In this provocative account, Thomas Lines looks at the 28 years following the Second World War when there were no such crises. He concludes, drawing on a well known result on the stability of systems from ecological theory, that we need to reduce the interconnections between banks by introducing severe restrictions on interbank lending and derivatives trading, and reintroducing exchange controls.
Sustainability Citizenship by Andrew Dobson
Why should you recycle your rubbish? Because the government might fine you if you don’t? Because you are nudged into re-cycling by your Council providing you with a nice new green plastic bin. Or because you believe as a citizen that you owe it to your fellow human beings - in short that it is the right thing to do. In this provocative short essay Andrew Dobson argues that government obsession with financial incentives, or more recently with the politics of nudging people to do the right thing, is undermining the creation of an ethically-based sustainability citizenship. And it is only with the latter that we will make long-term changes to how we live.
Mutual Security in a Sustainable Economy by Molly Scott Cato and Brian Heatley
Welfare reform has been in the news for the last thirty years. In this stimulating discussion, Molly Scott Cato and Brian Heatley argue that it needs to be taken out of the context of a neo-liberal market economy and re-considered afresh against the reality of the coming sustainable economy. The results are radical, calling for a new definition of poverty, a system based on individuals, and the abolition of a retirement age. But there is a return too to traditional Green themes like a Citizen’s Income paid to all, thrift and more emphasis on traditional skills for self-reliance.
Printed copies of all Reports can be ordered online at www.lulu.com