Green House Reports
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Another Brexit is possible
Strategy for Brexit in the era of COVID-19 and climate chaos:
Build resilience and security through greater national self-sufficiency together with global cooperation
By Rupert Read and Emma Dawnay, June 2020
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We have formally left the EU, but as yet our future relationships in the world at the end of the transition period are undecided. There are widely differing paths we could follow: we could align ourselves closely with the USA; we could remain closely aligned with the EU; we could become an ultra-competitive, low-tax, low-regulation nation; or we could aim to build national resilience through more self-sufficiency whilst at the same time cooperating globally to better prepare us for the global challenges ahead.
This report considers that the option of remaining in close alignment with the EU is too politically difficult to achieve. Having made this assumption, it argues that the only viable option is the final one: building national resilience through more localisation combined with deeper global cooperation. This option, of building national resilience through more localisation is likely to resonate widely across the political spectrum whilst addressing many of the issues behind the Brexit vote.
The report makes recommendations as to how the UK could: promote resilience through localisation; build a robust economy that safeguards our environment, food supplies, and health both now and in the future, and work with others to build global cooperation to face future challenges. It is available to download here.
What would a UK climate emergency plan that faces up to climate reality look like?
By Jonathan Essex, May 2020
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There have been lots of recent declarations of climate emergency in the UK but not yet an economy-wide plan that responds to the climate crisis in line with the climate science, as such declarations have called for. Existing government plans are mainly local or focus on technological changes, including those not yet proven at scale. The gaps between the climate science, political statements and economic policies and funding, and the actual levels of change required are huge. So where to begin?
This report sets out thoughts and ideas that started with a collective Green House discussion, and draws on different perspectives from our Climate Emergency conference held in September 2019. It explores how an emergency plan for the whole economy requires a shift in approach and thinking. One aspect that makes this different from most current plans is planning for zero carbon consumption, not just emissions that occur within the UK itself, which means the plan must confront our increasingly globally connected economic strategy. This must reach beyond how to eliminate fossil fuels from our future energy supply to immediately scaling down demand and completely decarbonising or phasing out all high-carbon industries and activities (e.g. blast furnace steel production, concrete, bricks, aviation and long-distance shipping). Thus a climate emergency plan will rethink our scale of transport and trade, reconnect us to the land and localise our economies.
Transforming all sectors (not just energy supply), our economics, politics and culture as well as technologies and infrastructure choices requires a different sort of planning too. How might we collectively relearn, reimagine and take on the different roles in recreating our future together? So the planning process cannot be a bureaucratic or expert-owned blueprint but an inspiring and engaging process that is nested, adaptive and people-led. It must prioritise quality of life in place of orthodox economic growth as measured by GDP, just like we have done during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
This report sets out some of the ingredients needed for climate emergency planning that does not just accept the severity of the climate science but reflects this in sufficiently honest and courageous responses. But above all these responses require us all to play our part. Starting now.
Unlocking the Job Potential of Zero Carbon
By Anne Chapman, Jonathan Essex and Peter Sims, December 2018
Meeting the challenge of climate change requires structural changes to the economy so that it is no longer dependent on fossil fuels: we need to reduce overall energy use and ensure that all the energy that we do use is from renewable sources. This will require the creation of a large number of new jobs.
This report outlines the methodology used and results of our climate jobs modelling work in the UK, Ireland and Hungary carried out in 2018. It is published by the Green European Foundation, with the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation. It is available to download here. Or you can order free copies by emailing email@example.com.
Community Energy in the UK
By Anne Chapman, November 2018
The ownership of renewable energy systems by community organisations in the UK grew dramatically between 2011 and 2015 but in the last few years has come to a shuddering halt. Few new systems are being installed and in 2017 there was only one new group formed. What caused the growth and why has it stopped? In this report, published by the Green European Foundation with the support of Green House Think Tank, Anne Chapman of Green House tells the story of the ups and downs of community energy in the UK, from the first co-operatively-owned wind farm in 1996, the setting up of low carbon communities groups in the first decade of this century, to the installation of renewable energy systems using funds from community share offers and the current search for new business models. This is an insider’s account as Anne is a director of a community energy organisation, MORE Renewables, which she set up in 2011. She concludes that what is needed for community energy to thrive is: the financial viability of small-scale renewable energy systems; motivated and committed people who can work together; sources of help and expertise for those people; legal structures which enable co-operative ownership of assets, and a stable policy framework for renewable energy.
The report is part of the Green European Foundation project, Energy Democracy, Changing the System, and has been realised with the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation. It is available to down load here. Or you can order free copies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job creation from a Sustainable Transition for Sheffield City Region:
How delivering a climate change compatible sub-regional economy will create new enterprises and employment
By Jonathan Essex and Peter Sims, May 2018
How would a transition to a zero-carbon economy affect employment? Would jobs be lost or gained? What kinds of jobs might be created, and where would they be? This report tries to answer these questions for the Sheffield City Region by bringing together data on the number of jobs associated with activities such as insulating homes or recycling waste with existing economic information about the region, to produce an estimate of the number of jobs that would be created in key sectors of the economy. The sectors considered are: energy, transport, buildings, farming, forestry and food, and reuse, repair and recycling. Where they can be quantified, the numbers of jobs that would be lost - for example, in coal-fired power stations or the repair of internal-combustion-engine vehicles - have been subtracted from the number of jobs created. The report estimates that after subtracting the jobs lost, around 22,000 full time equivalent jobs would be created in the transition phase, with around 18,000 in the longer term (beyond 2030). These estimates are conservative, as data was not available on the numbers of jobs required for all the things we need to do, such as better management of electricity demand, and they do not include ‘multiplier effects’, where the increased spending by those in the new jobs provides more employment in the wider economy.
The challenge is to put in place in each sector the frameworks - strategies, policies and funding - that make the creation of these jobs economically viable. The report makes it clear, however, that there is no reason to hold back from moving to a zero-carbon economy out of fear that such a move might create unemployment.
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Towards Deep Hope
John Foster, 2017
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. Climate change is a tragedy, as it is a destructive outcome of a key life-strength. 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.
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A Green Transition for the Isle of Wight
Jonathan Essex and Peter Sims, March 2017.
This Report, created for the Green European Foundation and with support from the Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation, develops a model for calculating the potential for new job creation from the introduction of a green economic and social transition at the local level. It uses this model to estimate the numbers of jobs that would be created by such a transition on the Isle of Wight. It will be of great interest to everyone involved in or thinking about local economic policy in the context of climate change and employment.
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Critiquing 'Common Cause'
Victor Anderson, Sam Earle and Rupert Read, 2016
The authors each reflect and comment on the Common Cause report published in 2010. That 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.
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An Assessment of Current Regulation of GMOs in the EU
Vesco Paskalev, 2016
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.
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Tackling our Housing Crisis: why building more houses will not solve the problem
Tom Chance, Anne Chapman and Maya de Souza, 2015
Everyone agrees housing is in crisis. This report 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.
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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