Green economy round-up: green growth, environmental tax, sustainable income, biodiversity, recycling
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:
- Green and Growth: solutions for growing a green economy (EEF report)
- Environmental tax reform in Europe (EEA report)
- Sustainable income standards: Towards a greener minimum? (JRF report)
- Pricing the Priceless: the business case for action on biodiversity (Aldersgate Group report)
- Earnings, jobs and innovation: the role of recycling in a green economy (EEA report)
Read about more recent publications and research in the latest SDRN bulletin…
In September 2011, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, published the first in a two part series looking at ‘Green and Growth’. The first report analysed why the UK’s current approach to reaching our carbon targets is unsustainable, and put forward an alternative direction of travel. The second report has just been released and sets out short- and long-term proposals that for growing a green economy. The report highlights that many manufacturing companies see opportunities in a low carbon economy, details objectives for growing a green economy, looks at the barriers to realising this and makes some short-and long-term recommendations that are intended to help to overcome the barriers.
European governments could simultaneously reduce income tax, increase innovation and cut pollution by introducing well-targeted environmental taxes and recycling the revenues back into the economy. This was one of the findings from a pair of reports on environmental tax reform (ETR) published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The first report ‘Environmental tax reform in Europe: implications for income distribution’ finds that although ETR tend to improve incomes across society, they can have mild regressive impacts in that richer households gain more than poorer ones. Care is therefore needed to design ETRs in ways that ensure that certain groups are able to benefit equally.
The second report, ‘Environmental tax reform in Europe: opportunities for eco-innovation’ finds that environmental policy instruments are frequently characterised as obstacles to economic activity but environmental taxes can, in fact, be the opposite – serving as catalysts for the creativity that underpins thriving economies.
This report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation asks whether changes towards ‘greener’ forms of consumption are compatible with preserving a minimum acceptable standard of living.
Previous analysis of the Minimum Income Standard for the UK (MIS) has shown that if everyone were to live at this minimum, carbon emissions would be around 37 per cent lower than at present. This is a long way off targets to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The research, which is draw from expert consultation, desk-based research and focus groups, concludes that while members of the public are often open to the idea of greener behaviour, barriers must still be overcome in order for norms to change. It is argued that part of the challenge is ensuring change is compatible with people’s cultural perspectives and priorities. At the same time, people do not always feel that they are getting coherent messages about how behaviour can contribute to sustainability.
The report suggests more work is needed to identify a range of measures that both have predictable and substantial benefits for the environment and can be presented as clear-cut options to the public. Heat and power in the home is suggested as the most promising area for further work.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) has published a report on business and biodiversity, making the case for incorporating the value of nature into decision making in order to safeguard long-term economic growth. The report conservatively estimates that the failure to address biodiversity loss will lead to cumulative losses equivalent to approximately 7% of global consumption by 2050.
The conclusions of the report include recommendations that Government must clarify the process by which natural capital is included in the national accounts and ensure proper scrutiny by an independent body, and that by the end of this Parliament, the Chancellor should present a draft natural capital budget alongside the fiscal budget.
The economic benefits of recycling are examined in a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). The report considers the recycling industry in the context of building a ‘green economy’, a major European policy objective. The report shows that recycling has environmental benefits including diverting waste away from landfill, thereby avoiding pollutant emissions. It also helps meet the material demands of economic production, preventing the environmental impacts associated with extracting and refining virgin materials. The authors conclude that the recycling industry can boost the European economy, and recycling has multiple benefits for many different areas of the economy – providing raw materials, creating jobs and encouraging business opportunities and innovation.
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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