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Publications round-up: ethics, energy, community, climate

A round-up of recent sustainable development publications highlighted by our partner, the Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN). For more news on sustainable development research and publications, join the network and receive regular SDRN mailings.

In this round-up:

Read about more recent publications and research in the latest SDRN bulletin…

Ecological Ethics: An introduction (new book)

This book, written by Patrick Curry, was first published in 2006, intended for anyone wishing to understand ecological/environmental ethics. In this revised, updated and expanded new edition, Curry argues that a new and truly ecological ethic is both possible and urgently needed.

With this point in mind, the book introduces and discusses the major concepts needed to understand the full range of ecological ethics:

  1. Light green or anthropocentric ethics with the examples of stewardship, lifeboat ethics and social ecology;
  2. The mid-green or intermediate ethics of animal liberation/rights;
  3. Dark or deep green ecocentric ethics.

Of the last kind, particular attention is given to the Land Ethic, the Gaia Hypothesis, and Deep Ecology and its offshoots; Deep Green Theory, Left Biocentrism and the Earth Manifesto. The new edition emphasises the importance of virtue ethics and its close relationship with ecocentrism. Other chapters discuss ecofeminism, green citizenship, green ethics as post-secular, moral pluralism and pragmatism, and human population in the light of ecological ethics.

All chapters in this revised edition have been updated and are joined by new discussions, from an ecocentric perspective, of climate change, wind power and energy, capitalism, sustainable economies, green education, traditional ecological knowledge, the treatment of animals as an ecocentric issue, vegetarianism, the food system, Buddhism, and animism as integral to a green virtue ethic.

More from Polity Books…

UK Energy 2050 Revised Scenario Set (UKERC release)

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) University College London (UCL) team is currently working on revisions to the UK Energy 2050 scenarios and expects to complete the work by the end of November 2011.

The revised scenarios reflect the considerable changes that have taken place since the scenarios were first developed during UKERC Phase I. The changes include:

  1. Use of the most recent version of the MARKAL-MED model;
  2. Revised assumptions about the cost of key technologies such as carbon capture and storage;
  3. A more consistent approach to the specification of discount and investment hurdle rates;
  4. An up-to-date characterisation of current and planned “additional” energy and climate policies;
  5. Alternative assumptions about future gas prices, reflecting changed perceptions about the possible role of unconventional gas.

This new publication provides a fuller specification of the revised scenarios and the assumptions underlying them.

More from UKERC…

Community assets: emerging learning, challenges and questions (JRF report)

The current political and economic climate means there may never be a better opportunity for community organisations to buy or manage assets such as buildings, parks and wind farms for local benefit.

However, can they make the most of this opportunity while surviving spending cuts, political pressures and commercial competition?

This report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF):

  1. Summarises the learning from six events on community assets;
  2. Draws on nine research papers and briefing documents published in 2010 and 2011;
  3. Explores the opportunities, challenges and questions arising for community organisations, funders, policy-makers and government.

More from JRF…

Is it too late to stop dangerous climate change? (Friends of the Earth report)

Friends of the Earth have recently published the findings of a year-long research project, exploring the question; ‘is it now too late to stop dangerous climate change?’

The first report considered the latest science findings, concluding that global temperature increases must be kept below 1.5 degrees to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change, and identified what this means for future emissions. It found that the EU would need to reduce its emissions by 60% by 2020 from 1990 levels, the United States would need to make even deeper cuts and China would need to peak its emissions by 2013 and then reduce them by 5% per year.

The second report used an adapted DECC 2050 pathways model to see if it is possible for the UK to live within its share of remaining emissions space – termed a ‘carbon budget’. It also considered whether it was possible to do so in a socially just way. It concluded that even with Herculean efforts across all sectors the UK cannot meet its reduction goals without deploying technologies that take carbon out of the air, so-called negative emissions technologies. It did however conclude that reductions could be made without disproportionate impact on poorer households – although it would require a determined effort to do so.

The final report is a technical analysis of the different potential negative emissions technologies currently being researched. It finds that many of the technologies are at an early stage of development, some bring significant risks, but the most promising technologies are likely to be far more costly than action to reduce carbon emissions in the first place. It also found practical limits to the contribution that negative emissions technologies can make; at best, they can only provide a supporting role to emissions reductions. It concluded that dangerous climate change can only be averted if much-accelerated carbon emissions reductions are made across the globe in addition to negative emissions.

More from Friends of the Earth…

The Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN) is an initiative funded by both Defra and the Department for Transport, and is coordinated by the Policy Studies Institute in London.

SDRN aims to facilitate and strengthen the links between providers of research and policymakers across government, in order to improve evidence-based policymaking to deliver the UK government’s objectives for sustainable development.

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