August 09, 2009 | Ronda Jambe

What would low carbon growth look like?

Today I spent much of the morning talking with an academic colleague about sustainable business practices, what they mean and why students are enrolling in these courses. We discussed the triple bottom line business sustainability, and systems thinking. This means the environmental, the social and the economic benefits are coupled, to use a phrase from complex systems. It hasn’t taken long for complex systems theory to reach the business world, and nowhere is it more applicable than when talking about triple bottom line sustainability.
Lord Stern, probably the world’s leading greenhouse economist, has been arguing for an economy based on low carbon growth. He believes that is the only way to avert global climate catastrophe, which he says would make the global financial crisis seem like a walk in the park.
Much of that growth would come, he says, by diverting the trillions that will need to be spent on infrastructure in the next few decades into low carbon infrastructure. This could include carbon capture and storage, if it turns out to be viable, but also renewables, public transport, better urban design, etc. And we have to stop cutting down forests, to protect not just our air but our water supplies.
That all sounds reasonable, and if enacted would bring us to what Stern describes as ‘a safer, cleaner and quieter economy and society’. All sounds good, but what would it look like away from the big infrastructure projects? What might it mean for a city like the ones most Australian live in, with our traffic and our dependence on food and goods trucked or flown in from afar?
In particular, what do young entrepreneurs need to know to set them in the right direction to deliver the goodies of this new economy? It isn’t enough to think about green collar jobs in solar panel factories, because the Chinese will be the ones doing that manufacturing, at least for the foreseeable future. Nor is it good enough to talk about all the feel good consumer items that deck the pages of the glossy green magazines, attractive though these are. We (and our economy) will not be saved by bamboo towels.
More likely, the low carbon growth will include all of this: infrastructure, consumables and some local food production. Beyond that, it will also harness the efficiencies of the electronic commerce revolution. There will be more services that help people access other innovative services. Old business models like brokering and cooperatives that have never completely gone away will be dusted off and given fresh perspectives: like the LETTS scheme with lipstick. Databases of people willing to refurbish and repair, trading and bartering on an industrial scale, E-Bay goes organic. Leveraging learning and teaching will become more formalised, more accepted, and easier.
Just my thoughts, and maybe I’ll be able to find someone to help me build that green dollhouse I’m trying to work out. The cute little LED lights that plugged via a tiny powerboard into a cute little solar panel, intended to illumine steps on a deck but just right for a doll house, worked for one day then had to go back to the hardware store. Darn!
green chair.jpg

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 4:39 pm | Comments Off on What would low carbon growth look like? |
Filed under: Environment

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.