My tour of Australia - with the SEARCH Foundation

Read about my speaking tour of Australia below – from the SEARCH Foundation:

The SEARCH Foundation is currently touring eminent British economist and author Ann
Pettifor around Australia and she is visiting our shores with a warning; the GFC inducing credit
crunch is not over and Australia’s banking sector is vulnerable.

Ms Pettifor is visiting Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane for speaking
engagements over the next fortnight.

“Before the Credit Crunch of 2008-2009 Brits and Americans were convinced that the good
times could last forever. Our orthodox economists, central bankers and politicians encouraged
us in that delusion. Today millions of the unemployed, homeless and bankrupt are paying
a heavy price for the failure to understand the role of the private banking system in causing
systemic and widespread economic failure.” Ms Pettifor said.

“Australians would be well advised not to fall into the same trap.

Continue reading… ›

Financing the Green Transition – why we can afford it

Last month I gave a ‘Green Talk‘ in Bristol, organised by Climate Works.

It was wonderful to be, first of all at such a professionally and well organised event (congrats to Mark Letcher and his team). It was also fantastic to be amongst such an interesting array of speakers including John Gapper ‘the secret gardener’ who has spent the last 35 years propagating wild flowers in Brighton and Hove (watch his talk here) and Alice Ferguson and Amy Rose – two mothers with a simple but brilliant idea to get children playing outside (watch their talk here).

My talk was on how we can afford to finance the Green Transition – watch below:

Continue reading… ›

The biodiversity lament

It’s a gorgeous day here in Oxford…had a little wander yesterday during the lunch-break, and came across clusters of worried-looking students wearing a strange garment which flapped – like a short gown – sporting white, pink and red carnations. So I asked them why? It turns out that on the first day of exam writing, Oxford students have to wear a gown with a white carnation; on the second day it’s pink, and on the final day it’s red….and they are not admitted into the exam room unless they are wearing the above….Charming.

We’re on day three of this World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment…and spent yesterday trying to determine the agenda for research and inquiry to address frightening levels of biodiversity loss. We were asked to look back 50 years – and consider what had been lost, and to then look forward 50 years, and prefigure what might be lost……

I lamented the loss of sparrows. Recollected how when visiting Washington recently came across a little flock of sparrows scrabbling on the ground – and was suddenly struck that it had been years since I had seen such a sight….the feeling of loss was both intense, and surprising.

When it came to loss within the next fifty years: my group wrote FISH on our post-it note – and then fell into mournful, if momentary silence.

The group included some rebellious characters – who felt more research – more evidence – is not needed, is not enough to drive change. What is needed is an understanding of motivation – of what it is that drives people to act beyond their own interests.

Our ‘rapporteur’ is a delightful man, Professor  John Robinson, of ‘Futures’ at both the Smith School, but also the University of Columbia….who summarised our debate succinctly, and then wrote a limerick.

We care about biodiversity

And are very concerned with the perversity

Of continuing to grow

Without attempting to know

What pathways won’t cause great adversity.

Is carbon telling us something.....?

More from the World Forum on Enteprise and the Envirionment.

Professor Kathy Willis says (and I paraphrase crudely) that increased carbon emissions may not necessarily lead to desertification as widely predicted, but may instead lead to more ‘woody cover’ i.e. forests in e.g. the world’s tropical areas…

Her evidence is quite convincing, drawing on previous ages of rising carbon, and also on an experiment of growing Acacia in different carbonised environments, that show that in the high-carbon environment, the Acacia roots were far more woody……so we may end up with more tropical forests, not less..A good thing for carbon sequestration. But one of threats to this good news outcome is the spread of biofuel farming….which might inhibit the spread of woody cover, in large parts of Africa.

Lots of talk about futures: an Indian ecologist once commented that we in the West lack imagination: when looking at futures, we think in polarised terms of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’….The future could be something in-between…..

Birds are telling us something....

Listening to Dr Simon Stuartof  IUCN – Species Survival Commission… has great slides, which hopefully will be on the website. Tracking birds as biodiversity indicator, measuring extinction..Notes significant and largely irreversible extinction trends..Amphibians, rapid decline..reef-forming corals, the most threatened… Sturgeons, Cycads, Sharks and rays….mangroves…

State of biodiversity going down, pressure on biodiversity going up, our reaction: going down….

Good news: without conservation impact would have been worse (but not a lot better!) for birds and for mammals…but not for amphibians….”no time to go into reasons for latter.”

Biodiversity indices are now being used for MDG 7…for 2020 targets. increasing global coverage of biodiversity indices and reducing biases…but huge challenge in monitoring at global level: most datasets put together for other purposes…without a data collection system behind them, not much use….

No evidence yet of serious policy changes based on the finding of biodiversity indices….So evidence does not seem yet, to encourage action…May that be because effective communication does not span evidence and action?

Chinese Professor Zhiyun, Director, Key Lab of  Systems Ecology for Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is asked: What is China doing about rising consumption of e.g. meat?…Responds about wildlife facing extinction….

This is the link to the Bank for Natural Capital provided by Dr. Trista Patterson…and also @teeb4me on Twitter.  Love this video: Your Invoice; ‘Mother Nature here….here’s your invoice.”

Enterprise and the environment - compatible?

I am privileged to be a speaker at the World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, hosted by Sir David King of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford. Sir David today has a column in the Guardian in which he calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to exercise leadership on the global stage.   Ah….leadership. A rare thing.

I am here to argue, once again, that ‘we can afford what we can do’ and that UNEP’s calculations of the costs of de-carbonising the economy over the next 50 years are eminently affordable…provided of course, that we get a grip on that great public good: the finance sector. But so long as we fumble about, trying to mobilise and direct pension funds and other ‘savings’ towards these life-saving activities…for so long shall we have a blind spot for the real answer to financing de-carbonisation.

PepsiCo’s Dr. Derek Yach is chairing this morning, and reports that their CEO – Indra Nooyi – asked the company’s chief legal officer to investigate PepsiCo’s legal obligations in relation to the environment. The lawyer concluded that given that companies were granted a license ‘in perpetuity’ – they therefore had obligations to ‘perpetuity’….Interesting.

Rt Hon. Simon Upton (a New Zealander) Director OECD – argues, refreshingly, that there is no such thing as international regulation – only national regulation….Now arguing that the  1st thing we have to do for green growth is get rid of subsidies. Second, scale up finance for biodiversity – graph on current investments including environment-related ODA  - which is stagnant, if not falling.

Now we have Colombia’s Ms Sandra Bessudo, President Juan Manuel Santos’s environmental adviser.  Colombia is doing the right thing, says Ms Bessudo, and the President wants to prioritise job creation and the environment. Colombia wants to belong to the OECD….’we need the international community to help us, and invest….Please visit’ she ends with.

Now Robert Peccoud, Research Director of Agence Française de Développment – since 1995 – is racing through his presentation….very few clear, consistent financial commitments made by countries for biodiversity, he notes. ODA funds for biodiversity, can e.g. go to build a road to boost tourism….

Questions for Ms Bessudo on addressing biodiversity challenges in the midst of armed conflict. Today, we have a much safer country, she says. Within the ministry of defence there is an area working on the defence of biodiversity and ecosystems, she says.

We now move on to ‘the new economy toolbox’ with Pavan Sukhdev, founder and CEO GIST advisory and McCluskey Fellow, 2011, Yale University.  True Cost calculate that externalities of top 3,000 corporations: 2.2 trillion – 1/3 of profits of these companies. (Private Profits, Public Losses).

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) important that we get that right, he says: REDD mixes social as well as ecological solutions.

Get away from some of our hang-ups, e.g. arguing about ‘fungibility’ ….Political challenge: recognising importance of ecological infrastructure…GIST…we have to look at the ecological infrastructure…targeting social returns on investment….ecosystem restoration is a huge benefit…about spending public money on public wealth…nothing to stop governments from doing this, but one of the biggest stumbling blocks he has come acros….TEEB reports: – a community, funders, UNEP etc…’.Valuations’ vs ‘Marketization’….you don’t have to look at markets…as in classical, supply-driven and liquid markets.

Mr James Griffiths of WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) 200 global company members…with US$7 trillion sales revenue. $190 billion a year – the benefit of insects in the US….bigger than Walmart’s contribution to the US economy! …What can companies do, etc…

Dr Trista Patterson, Economist….Apologies readers: someone, more likely, something, stole my text….and Dr. Patterson’s contribution was so interesting….Will try and retrieve it.