In March, the European Commission published a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, announcing that all 54 actions under the Circular Economy Action Plan launched in 2015 have now been delivered.
This has accelerated the transition towards a circular economy in Europe. In 2016, sectors relevant to the circular economy:
- employed more than four million workers, a 6% increase compared to 2012.
- opened up new business opportunities,
- gave rise to new business models
- developed new markets, domestically and outside the EU
- generated almost €147 billion in value added by repair, reuse or recycling
- and accounted for around €17.5 billion worth of investments.
On this site in February there was a report about The Manchester Declaration by the UK community repair movement (follow the link to see a wide range of members). This called for the repair of products, especially electronics, to be made more accessible and affordable, while ensuring that product standards that make products easier to repair are adopted.
There are currently 1689 Repair Cafés in the world. One product successfully repaired at a Repair Café can prevent up to 24 kilos of CO2 being emitted, according to research by Steve Privett, who examined data of almost 3000 repairs carried out at 13 Repair Cafés in the UK.
These activities are in tune with the Circular Economy Action Plan formulated by The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
The EESC seeks to improve the Ecodesign Working Plan (2016-2019) in order to drive ‘wholesale’ change in behaviour through the supply chains of goods and services at a pace that would reflect the ambition of the Circular Economy Action Plan, introduced in December 2015.
The ecodesign of goods and services needs to go beyond just energy considerations – the component parts of a product should be easily recoverable for reuse and/or remanufacture and drive the creation of a strong secondary raw materials market. There must be a focus on the full lifecycle of products including:
- their durability,
- ease of maintenance
- and repair,
- potential for reuse,
- and actual uptake after use in the form of secondary materials in products entering the market.
The EESC has reaffirmed its support for the use of Extended Producer Responsibility as a tool to promote the transition to circular economy business models. It focusses on the end-of-use treatment of consumer products, aiming to increase the amount of product recovery and minimize the environmental impact of waste materials.
An EC reflection paper finds that almost all elements of the Action Plan have been delivered but more steps will need to be taken to build a fully circular European economy. Europe is moving steadily towards a climate-neutral, competitive circular economy where pressure on resources and ecosystems is minimised.
Posted in economy, employment, energy, environment, finance, localisation
Tagged Circular Economy Action Plan, durable goods, ecodesign, Extended Producer Responsibility, recycling, reuse. repair
Global weather patterns have increased attention on the adverse effects of climate change and unease grows about the threats posed by automation.
American Democrats and Greens are taking on board the message delivered for years by Colin Hines, convener of the Green New Deal Group, more recently in the Guardian and repeatedly since then.
Implementation of the group’s Green New Deal infrastructure programme would mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, substantially reducing the domestic carbon emissions and automation-related unemployment.
However it will be important to build up public support for the massive systemic change advocated by many, including both Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. The often uncomfortable personal lifestyle changes needed must be seen as part of a diverse and popular programme addressing the social, economic and climate insecurity increasingly felt by the majority.
The changes would involve dramatically increasing the funding of:
- employment in face to face jobs that address the worries of people of all ages, such as inadequate health-care, education and housing,
- energy efficiency measures,
- the increased use of renewables,
- face-to-face caring in the public and private sector – difficult to automate or relocate abroad,
- interconnected road and rail services in every community,
- electric vehicles for private use
- and an enormous nationwide green infrastructure programme ensuring the rapid decarbonisation of energy, transport, resource use and food production.
The changes must be couched in terms of being a massive local job generator and one that provides business and investment opportunities. Read more here.
America’s Green Party
As the convenor pointed out in the Financial Times yesterday, the political advantage of this approach is that it would be seen by voters to be beneficial to every constituency and, as such, should appeal to all political parties. It will require a wide range of skills for work that will last decades, help to improve conditions and job opportunities for the “left behind” communities in the UK and ensure that the urgent demands of many for action on climate change can be more swiftly met.
Posted in economics, economy, employment, energy, environment, finance, health, housing, localisation, NHS, transport
Tagged carbon emissions, climate change, Colin Hines, electric vehicles, Financial Times, food production, green infrastructure, Green New Deal., local jobs, renewables
Yanis Varoufakis co-founder of DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement) and former Greece finance minister, has advocated a Green New Deal for Europe. Towards the end of an article (Dec.2018) he wrote:
This is what Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 – which I co-founded – and our European Spring alliance will be taking to voters in the European parliament elections next summer. See video here.
The great advantage of our Green New Deal is that we are taking a leaf out of US President Franklin Roosevelt’s original New Deal in the 1930s: our idea is to create €500bn every year in the green transition across Europe, without a euro in new taxes.
Here’s how it would work: the European Investment Bank (EIB) issues bonds of that value with the European Central Bank standing by, ready to purchase as many of them as necessary in the secondary markets. The EIB bonds will undoubtedly sell like hot cakes in a market desperate for a safe asset. Thus, the excess liquidity that keeps interest rates negative, crushing German pension funds, is soaked up and the Green New Deal is fully funded.
Once hope in a Europe of shared, green prosperity is restored, it will be possible to have the necessary debate on new pan-European taxes on C02, the rich, big tech and so on – as well as settling the democratic constitution Europe deserves.
Perhaps our Green New Deal may even create the climate for a second UK referendum, so that the people of Britain can choose to rejoin a better, fairer, greener, democratic EU.
Read the whole article here.
On Monday, March 25, DiEM25 and European Spring gathered in Brussels to present the women and men from all corners of Europe who will take our common political programme to the ballot on May 25 – like Génération.s’ Benoît Hamon and LIVRE’s Rui Tavares among others – at the BOZAR theatre. This is where we officially launched our European Spring campaign – embodied in a New Deal for Europe, a set of ambitious economic proposals to save Europe from itself by transforming it.
Posted in democracy, economics, economy, employment, energy, environment, finance, government, political decision-making, tax
Tagged EU, green prosperity, US President Franklin Roosevelt, Yanis Varoufakis
Colin Hines has drawn attention to a 2017 report written by Victor Anderson and Rupert Read entitled ‘Brexit and Trade Moving from Globalisation to Self-reliance’, published and launched by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato.
Although it regrets our leaving the EU and wishes we wouldn’t, the report is written as an alternative approach assuming we are outside the EU. Its Executive Summary states: “This report puts on to the political agenda an option for Brexit which goes with the grain of widespread worries about globalisation, and argues for greater local, regional, and national self-sufficiency, reducing international trade and boosting import substitution”.
Hines continues: “As I am aware it is the first time a report from a politician isn’t clamouring to retain membership of the open border Single Market”
It details the need for an environmentally sustainable future involving constraints to trade and the rebuilding of local economies. Indeed the report actually calls for ‘Progressive Protectionism’ rather than a race to the bottom relationship with the EU. Some of the points made on page 14:
- Reducing dependence on international trade implies reducing both imports and exports.
- It is therefore very different from the traditional protectionism of seeking to limit imports whilst expanding exports.
- It should therefore meet with less hostility from other countries, as it has a very different aim from simply improving the UK’s balance of payments.
- It could be described as ‘progressive protectionism’, or ‘green protectionism’.
For detailed proposals on how this could and should be done, see http://progressiveprotectionism.com/wordpress/’
He adds, “Also ground-breaking in Green Party literature of late is its discussion of the arguments for and against managed migration. Its sensitive handling of this contentious issue for many in the Greens does mark an important step forward and hopefully will help to start an internal debate about whether or not the party should reconsider its open borders approach”.
Hines feels that we won’t leave the EU – and central to that happening will be a realisation across Europe that to see off the extreme right they must manage internal migration and protect domestic jobs. At that point the reasons for supporting Brexit for most are no longer valid.
He ends: “This timely report makes a crucial input to the debate, one that will rage for the next two years”.
Posted in economy, environment, exports, government, imports, trade
Tagged Brexit, Colin Hines, Green Party, green protectionism, import substitution, local economies, Molly Scott Cato, Single Market, Victor Anderson
A Green Bank of England, Central Banking for a Low-Carbon Economy
Delphine Strauss (Financial Times) summarises advice in this report (link to pdf above) from the campaign group Positive Money.
It recommends that climate change be placed “front and centre” of the Bank of England’s mandate so that the central bank can boost green investment.
The report has won backing from Lord Deben, who chairs the independent Committee on Climate Change which was set up by the government to monitor the UK’s progress in meeting its statutory targets for cutting emissions:
“They are right to seek some radical measures, because the issues are radical. I think that monetary policy does need to reflect these risks”, he said, adding that central banks should do more to ensure the availability of green finance and divest from fossil fuel companies that showed no inclination to change their business.
The BoE has been reviewing UK insurers and banks’ exposure to climate-related risks and supports efforts to develop international standards for voluntary disclosure.
Mark Carney, the BoE’s governor, has repeatedly warned of the physical damage climate change could wreak on the economy and the risks to financial stability that might result from a sudden revaluation of carbon-intensive assets.
Positive Money argued that this concern for financial stability will look “incoherent” unless the BoE does more to boost investment in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Its report urged the government to rewrite the mandate of the Monetary Policy Committee to include green objectives explicitly and called on the BoE to look at ways to build climate-related risks into its macroeconomic models.
The Positive Money report urges the BoE to set an example:
- by disclosing the carbon risks of assets on its own balance sheet
- by ending the practice of buying bonds issued by fossil fuel companies
- and by financing green projects via quantitative easing during any recession.
It argued that the BoE has unintentionally promoted high-carbon sectors because its criteria for asset purchases favoured the bonds of large fossil fuel companies.
Posted in banks, economics, economy, employment, energy, environment, finance, government
Tagged Banking, climate change, Economic reform, finance, infrastructure, Innovation, investment