Definitely, maybe: circular economy initiatives that work for poor communities

Over the last 18 months we’ve been thinking, discussing and writing about how the circular economy can work for communities in developing countries. Our latest research paper, Bending the Curve, takes the evidence base to the next stage. It assesses the literature available to identify what works in practice, and the range of income, health and environmental benefits these interventions bring.

We can divide the approaches into three categories, which I think of as:

  • Definitelyproven interventions that have a strong evidence base, and could be replicated in a variety of low- and middle-income contexts.
  • Probably: approaches where the evidence base is evolving; more research is needed to understand how they could be scaled up and rolled out in different contexts.
  • Maybe: areas of high concern or great potential, but where the solutions are as-yet-unproven or speculative.

[Read more…]

Less Coal, Less Gas, More Hope – predictions on UK’s electricity

It’s very encouraging how fast Great Britain’s emissions from electricity have reduced over the last five years – 2017’s figures from the excellent MyGridGB show how far we’ve come.

This is mostly down to 4 things:

  • closing coal power stations
  • replacing a lot of coal with gas
  • replacing some coal with wind, and some with biomass, mainly wood
  • using a bit less electricity
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The future looks good for solar and wind power

Less coal, less gas

We’re doing well on using less coal, the single biggest step Britain needed to take on climate change. I think the government will keep their promise to shut coal power down completely by 2025. It’s been good to see climate minister Claire Perry championing phasing out coal internationally – and her promotion to attend cabinet in the reshuffle is encouraging too. [Read more…]

Tweaking the design of electronic goods could reduce poverty. Here’s how.

In 2016, two hundred printers and monitors were fitted with GPS trackers and dropped at recyclers and charities across the US. After just a few months, one in three had been shipped overseas, mostly across the Pacific to Asia. This experiment by MIT and the Basel Action Network reveals the tip of the electronic waste iceberg: experts estimate that as many as nine out of ten discarded computers eventually end up in developing countries.

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GPS Tracks for the US’ Electronic Waste.  Image: MIT Senseable City Lab, visualisation from the Basel Action Network’s E-Trash Transparency Project

 

These electronics exports can help people escape poverty, but they can also hinder them, and the key lies in product design.  [Read more…]

Widening the circle: the internationalisation of Scotland’s circular economy

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Scotland is at the leading edge of the circular economy. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government was awarded a prestigious prize at the World Economic Forum for its work placing the circular economy at the core of Scotland’s economic strategy and manufacturing action plan. But so far discussion and action has been largely limited to domestic considerations. So where better to start the conversation on how to “widen the circle” than at the Scottish Parliament?  [Read more…]

We’re all in the same canoe – negotiating world climate directions at COP23

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Senior Campaigner Helen Heather writes from the close of the UN Climate Talks in Bonn.

As I entered the UN Climate Talks, I immediately noticed the vibrancy and welcome (‘Bula’) of the Fijians who have presided over the negotiations. Their presence during these negotiations has been hard to miss as they have elevated the voices of small islands, the Pacific nations and all vulnerable countries urgently needing climate action.

Indeed the symbol the Fiji delegation shared with everyone here is a Drua – a Fijian ocean-going canoe – with the message “we are all in the same canoe”. [Read more…]

5 things to watch out for at the Bonn climate talks

 

Government delegates from almost every country in the world have started global talks on climate change in Bonn, Germany. What do we need to see from governments this year?

1. Keep the spirit of Paris alive and stand by their promises, to safeguard people’s lives and livelihoods

Two years ago in Paris, world leaders promised to prevent irreversible climate change, urged on by faith leaders, civil society and businesses.  Now governments must turn that promise into reality.  They must keep the momentum going to ensure the Paris Agreement delivers on its full potential. [Read more…]

Story telling and policy making – which is the chicken and which is the egg? How social movements can help achieve the Paris Climate Agreement

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Many people recognise that climate change has human causes and needs human interventions, but this knowledge hasn’t impacted their own habits and behaviours. Yet we know that achieving warming of less than 2C – the target of the Paris Agreement – requires lifestyle changes by us all. We also need policies to help us make the big changes in our lives and society. So which comes first? Policies or people?  [Read more…]

An economy where both people and nature thrive

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In 2016 Tearfund and the St Paul’s Institute held a programme of roundtables exploring global development and the green economy. Barbara Ridpath, Director of the Institute, and I explore inequality and the economy, and the recommendations from the programme in our follow up paper, ‘Going Full Circle:  tackling resource reduction and inequality’.

Look around your office floor or the train you’re travelling in. Can you count eight people? That’s the number of men who own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people in the world this year. This inequality is extreme and it’s down to a broken economic system.  [Read more…]

Nothing as sensitive as death and taxes

There maybe nothing as certain as death and taxes, but equally there are few topics as sensitive. Tax and wealth are difficult subjects to gain cross-party political consensus on and, given the power of tax on supply and demand within the market, everyone has a strong opinion.

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Yesterday we saw headlines on the need for an overhaul of the UK tax system, but do we have the politicians prepared to take this on? Justin Welby proclaimedOur economic model is broken. Britain stands at a watershed moment where we need to make fundamental choices about the sort of economy we need. We are failing those who will grow up into a world where the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country is significant and destabilising.” Welby’s remarks were made as part of the Commission on Economic Justice, led by the think tank IPPR. The Commission’s full report and recommendations will be published in 2018, but will include calls for: [Read more…]

Every day is Earth Overshoot Day (but it doesn’t have to be)

Whenever you hear words like overcome, overjoyed or overwhelmed, the sense is about extremes: strong positive connotations or the exact opposite. Today is Earth Overshoot Day, the day in 2017 when collectively the world’s population have used up all the resources that nature can regenerate in one year. This overuse of resources falls firmly into that second camp: strong negative connotations. [Read more…]