Platform Capitalism or Alternative Economy?

This year, the Association for Ecological Economic Research (VÖW) invites you to Wuppertal from the 1st to the 5th of October for the 8th Autumn Academy .

Sharing Economy: Platform Capitalism or Alternative Economy?

Sharing in itself is not a new concept and belongs in many cultures heard parts still today in all areas of life to everyday life – not least as a necessity to use scarce resources as sparingly as possible. And yet: in the course of digitization, parts of the Westernized world, most of which has become individualized and property-oriented, have also experienced a much-noticed renaissance. As part of the so-called “sharing economy”, fundamentally new business models, consumer and supply patterns have been tested and successfully brought to market in recent years. Platform vendors such as Airbnb and Uber have revolutionized entire markets and have quickly become major competitors in their respective industries. Initiatives such as foodsharing or urban gardening and co-working show how sharing can create new communities and potentially bring about positive environmental and social impacts. The integration of new mobility services such as car sharing and bike sharing enable new, multimodal transport concepts. Sharing understood as “sharing and sharing” promotes a rethinking of dialogue and decision-making processes. The examples mentioned have a common denominator – they take place at the local level.

Lifestyles, business models and sharing strategies in the city

As many examples show, sharing offers at the local level in particular have the potential for positive social and environmental effects. Here they often have the potential to shape the context, its actors and their behavior. So how can urban development look in the context of the sharing debate? What are the potentials and which solutions might be at the interface between sharing and urban development? In this year’s academy, the potential of sharing in the city in relation to a more sustainable form of economic activity will be examined. Questions to be addressed are: Which types of sharing contribute to a fundamental rethinking of one’s own lifestyle and how does that affect consumer behavior? How can civil society initiatives stand on their own two feet and stabilize or even expand their involvement? To what extent can sharing act as an “entry gate” to sustainable business management? How do companies deal with trend sharing and how does this affect their respective environment?

format

At the autumn academy, impulses, field visits and intensive group work alternate. Wuppertal companies and sharing initiatives present their strategies and their effects, experts provide a conceptual framework for a sustainable sharing economy and its link with sustainable urban development. Participants will be to use case studies to explore sharing in diversity and impact on business, initiatives and lifestyles, and to creatively explore its potential for alternative and sustainable urban economy. Using the Design Thinking methodology, they go through the process in teams of a problem, user surveys to innovative approaches. The results will be presented at a public closing event of the Autumn Academy as part of a Sharing Day in Wuppertal.

Program & Speakers

The Autumn Academy is organized in cooperation with the junior research group “UrbanUp”, which sets up a diversified academy program with exciting speakers and practical sharing activities and partners. In addition, the Academy is accompanied by a supporting program, which offers plenty of time and space to talk to speakers and participants.

Participation & Applications

The interdisciplinary academy is open to students, graduates, doctoral candidates, postdocs and practitioners of all disciplines. There are a total of 22 seats available. Applications with a curriculum vitae and a meaningful letter of motivation (max 1 page) must be sent to urbanup@uni-wuppertal.de by 30 July 2018. We are also pleased about participants who would like to present their own topic-related work. If interested, a short overview of a possible input (topic, content, presentation form) can be attached to the application. Thanks to the financial support of the Christian Martin Foundation, the participation fee is only € 130 regular / € 90 reduced for members of the VÖW. The contribution includes accommodation, meals, travel expenses within Wuppertal as well as the conference documents.

Duration & location

The autumn academy starts on Monday, 01.10.18 at 12:30, ends on Friday, 05.10.18 at 16.00 and then ends informally in the evening during the Sharing-Day. The event takes place mainly in the Silvio Gesell conference center near Wuppertal as well as cooperation partners of the UrbanUp project and in different places of sharing in Wuppertal.

Posted in Uncategorized

We are driven

Growth used to mean prosperity, yes, even luck. Today, the system is forcing us to consume more and more. Otherwise it would collapse.

Increasingly, steady economic growth has shifted from a desirable goal to a constraint that we are subject to. The promise that growth would also be accompanied by a better future life has dissolved. Nevertheless, capitalist economies force us to grow, whether we like it or not.

Growth has originally created material wealth in many countries that earlier generations could only dream of. Thus, per capita inflation-adjusted gross domestic product in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, and the United States increased approximately tenfold between 1870 and 1995.

In fact, the beginning of industrialization was a most unpleasant time for a large part of the population. The result was an army of low-paid industrial workers who had to work and live in miserable conditions. But over time, workers also participated in economic growth. They were not, as Marx mistakenly believed, increasingly exploited, but their wages began to rise and, as increasingly wealthy consumers, became an essential pillar of economic growth.

For a long time, economic growth has therefore made a positive contribution to the well-being of many people. Compared to the past, we can afford a luxurious lifestyle, on average we live much longer and healthier. But in recent times, Western Europe, North America and Japan are increasingly questioning whether growth is contributing to people’s well-being. As many studies show, further economic growth does not make people happier or happier.

Flourish only on pump

This would be reason enough to question economic growth. For growth makes economic sense only as long as it makes a positive contribution to the subjective well-being. Added to this are the effects of growth on the environment, which have led to a critique of growth from an ecological perspective since the early 1970s.

But can economies without growth work today in the longer term? An analysis of the economic cash cycle shows that this will not be possible for long. In the long term, the entire corporate sector can only make profits if it receives more money from outside, generating additional demand and thus additional income. This inflow takes place in modern economies through lending by commercial banks, which creates additional money. In order for the additional money created to become real profits, the newly created money must at least partially be used to finance investments in real capital (such as machinery, equipment). This increases the productive capacity of the economy and leads to an increase in the production of goods and services.

On the other hand, if no more money flows into the economy, the increase in demand and production comes to an end. Profits are then quickly losses, and the economy is in a downward spiral. For a long time, the described compulsion to grow was not perceived as such, as long as the promise of salvation for a better future was combined with growth. But from this promise of salvation is in recent times increasingly a compulsive act. For more and more people in rich countries, more material wealth is no longer a credible promise of an even better future life.

Therefore, growth today is hardly justified by this argument. Instead, we hear that a country like Germany, with little or no growth as an economic location, becomes unattractive, loses its innovative strength or loses jobs. We have to grow to remain economically successful, even if we do not want even more material wealth: That’s exactly the growth compulsion!

So we are prisoners of a system that forces us to grow permanently. Non-insatiated needs drive this growth, but the effort of companies to create always new growth potential. Technologically, this is not a problem. Technical progress enables a constant increase in the production of ever more diverse goods and services. Digitization is likely to increase labor productivity even more. The bottleneck lies with consumers who have become drivers of growth by drivers.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Economic growth and consumerism

Growth

The concept of economic growth is at the center of capitalist theoretical and practical economics. He describes the movement of the real economy. When you look at them, it becomes obvious that everything that is economically important becomes more comprehensive, bigger and more efficient in the course of time, be it the production facilities, the product output, the corporations or even the extraction of material resources. This movement began with industrialization. The phase shift between rising and stagnant growth has not yet led to the replacement of growth as a fundamental feature of the capitalist economy and its transformation into a post-growth economy. The reason lies in the fact that growth is a compelling element of the existing economy, and therefore a forceful force. It would take huge forces to overcome it. Anyone who is involved in the project of a post-growth company can tell enough about it.

The growth principle also applies to humans. This happens in two ways. On the one hand, this happens in the field of production. Even if a person applies for a job, she sees herself in a competitive situation; she is surrounded by many others who also apply. Everyone knows that they have to be better than the others to get the job. The CV must provide information about whether and how the applicant has developed as a personality and, in particular, as a potential employee. Development means here: training, further education, good certificates for previous professional activities, exact profile for the vacancy, etc. In short, in principle, all applicants must be better than the others. You have to identify yourself with personal growth. Even those who are awarded the job, is obliged to be better than good, so continue to grow according to the needs of the employer.

Consumption

On the other hand, the growth principle works not only within, but also outside the sphere of production, namely, where people consume. There, they encounter an overabundance of goods. One might think that this would give the possibility that the range of goods could, reasoned, be used to buy the right things and actually consume them. This is, however, an economy-related ideology. Because if all people actually behave like that, the production companies could no longer grow, they would have to produce according to demand and not growth-oriented. The ideology breaks like a glass falling on the stone floor. Because the advertising does nothing else, as the consumer sometimes whispering, sometimes hammering to make it clear that they should consume more and more.

Consumerism

Consumption means use or consumption of consumable goods. This happens first at the level of the reproduction of life. In our highly developed societies, this also includes education, cultural offerings, etc. that one may need; This may be called extended reproductive consumption. But each and everyone will confirm that they often and much and more – and thus sometimes really unreasonable – buy. The purchased goods heaps tend to exceed consumer needs and consumption. Nevertheless, they are consumed to a high and increasing degree. Consumption takes on a form that can be described as consumerist consumption. The doubling in this designation should clarify the following: Never in human history has consumption taken such a high significance in the life of the consumer, as is the case today.

Growth in consumerism

As production grows, it spits out new and more and more goods. These must be consumed so that the resulting exchange value can be invested in production and distributed generously to the owners of the capital. How beautiful and how sweet the goods come along: they are members of a forced bond. And they continue to give the coercion to the consumers. This can be seen, for example, in clothing sales. Many garments become obsolete by the dictates of the fashions after two or three times use; they are thrown away after a short time and replaced. This fuels the production, which has a high impact on workers in Southeast Asia, for example. Another example is the medicalization of the care of the elderly. The research aims, among other things, at extending human life. Those who live longer consume more medical products. Or: In times when Western and Eastern potentates wage wars, plan or threaten wars, the (absurd) demand and production of weapons increases. They too are goods that are finally consumed and consumed. Finally, it should be recalled that the growth compulsion in production as well as in consumption presupposes a moderate exploitation of natural resources. It has now progressed so far that the consequences of it are felt in this hot summer for all.

Perspectives

We are watching a worldwide competition today. It is fought by those who cling to the fundamentals of existing societies and thus to the growth principle and those who want to overcome them. These outline pictures of a post-growth society. On the one hand, they do this by examining which alternatives to the capitalist growth economy are conceivable. They think about possible futures. And on the other hand, they practically try out the pictures: they experiment with the pictures by giving them a practical shape in everyday life, in economic regulations, in the education of children and adults. These processes are not or hardly in the traditional political structures. They are characterized by autonomy and networking among themselves. This creates a rich diversity. Here I would just like to name a few principles that guide the many practical projects.

 

  • It can be seen across the board that societal islands are emerging that are adopting the growth principle. They question the capitalist economy as a whole.
  • It is no longer the capitalist pursuit of profit that is the guiding principle of economic activity, but the common good. To put it simply: All people should be fine without exception. This affects nutrition, housing, education, etc.
  • For this purpose, production and consumption are subjected to the consistent application of sustainable principles.
  • Wherever growth falls, so do large parts of the competition. In their place, more and more human cooperation and solidarity occur.

 

It goes without saying that such principles are not introduced by formalistic decisions. Rather, they must be tested, struggled for – in a capitalistic environment that is bound to be resistant. This resistance is opposed to independent learning of individuals and groups.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

How sustainable is sustainability?

A critical-reflexive inventory

“Do not cut more wood than grow back” – this vivid explanation of forestry people is 300 years old for the concept of sustainability (see Grober 2013) – actually a banal old wisdom.

Capitalism, however, with its “time is money” and profit-maximizing strategy, exploits natural and social resources and increasingly depletes humans and nature. The social and environmental costs have become too obvious to be ignored socially and politically. As a “child of the crisis” and a solution to ecological, social and economic problems (see Erenz 2013), the term “sustainability” has entered the public debate since 1980 and has long since become a much discussed social “guiding principle” – a “social fact” (see Durkheim 1984) and subject of sociological research.

From a critical debate on future research on social dimensions of sustainability, which took place at the University of Hamburg’s Chair of Social Analysis and Social Change, chaired by Sighard Neckels and its scientific staff, since 2016, this small volume titled ” Die Gesellschaft sustainability. Outlines of a research program “. The objective is to present a sociological diagnosis of the present, not only “on the background of ecological crises, but also on the current social change as a whole” (p. 7)

The book presents various approaches and concepts of sustainability, both normative and descriptive. On the one hand, different sustainability developments, which are understood as capitalist modernization processes, and on the other, growth-critical approaches to a social transformation beyond the capitalist economy are discussed.

The seven contributions in this volume outline a broad spectrum of economic, legal, political as well as social, ecological and psychological aspects of sustainability, thus offering readers a look at the social complexity of this term.

U. a. topics such as “Financing sustainability” as an instrument of sustainable development, certification, awarding and classification of economic actors – at the same time causing ecological problems and shaping sustainable change – as well as sustainability practices in the form of ecological lifestyles as a social distinction, which among other things also amplify social inequality and moralizing authority are taken up. Another field of research deals with sustainability as a “subjectivization program” in that sustainability is both the task and the responsibility of the subject to behave “sustainably” in his everyday life and, on the other hand, as a mode of action of the individual in dealing with himself and his body, eg. B. as a wellness, Achtsamkeits- or resilience program, as a result of the “use of mental health” is understood.

The last article deals with social theoretical drafts of alternative social practices beyond economic growth, such as post-capitalism, post-growth society, convivialism, and real utopias. In these designs, sustainability is normatively understood as a social transformation project for overcoming capitalism as a form of society.

The authors see this publication not only as a “program” of the current social change, but at the same time would like to suggest “in which fundamental analytical perspective sociology should negotiate sustainability as a social phenomenon” (p. 8). To understand sustainability in sociological research as a problem and to take a “problem-oriented and reflexive position”, which also puts “the contradictions, dilemmas and paradoxes” in the focus. This is the only way to identify emerging ecological, economic and social conflicts, social inequalities and power relations (see page 13).

This book is not only profitable and extremely interesting for sociologically interested researchers, but also for practitioners who are interested in actively shaping a sustainable society. There is a great deal of (research) potential in each of the short but concise contributions, above all because, with its critical-reflexive perspective, it also casts a glance at otherwise “blind spots” in social sustainability developments.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A better future is possible

The Sustainability Council of TU Berlin had the Canadian scientist Peter Victor on 18.05.2018 in the context of the lecture series “prosperity without growth” to a lecture on new findings from the revision process of his 2008 published book Managing without Growth. Slower by design, not invited disaster . The renowned economist, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Research at York University in Toronto, Canada, looks back on an eventful, nearly fifty-year career dedicated to investigating the interaction between the economy and the environment.

The limits of growth

Peter Victor began his talk by stating that economics was telling a story in which progress was equated with economic growth that helped us to greater prosperity. Although this definition of progress is still very young, growth has become a priority policy objective. Like him – in addition to numerous other authors – in his book Managing without Growth. Slower by Design, not Disaster , this growth is limited. As a justification Victor listed three aspects:

  1. Long-term growth is impossible on a planet with finite resources and sinks.
  2. Economic growth does not make happy, as the decoupling of income and satisfaction in the industrialized nations shows.
  3. Economic growth is disappointing as it can not solve macroeconomic problems such as unemployment.

These findings are now hardly doubted why many players on the search for a “different” growth, as the inflationary occurrence of terms such as Green Growth , Sustainable Growth or Clean Growth show. Commenting on Victor’s Green Growth OCED definition, “Nice definition – but how do we get there?” Says that with an annual growth rate of 3%, reducing the CO 2 emission intensity by 8% would be necessary to reduce greenhouse gases reduce it by 85% within 35 years, thus ensuring sustainable development.

Ecological macroeconomics as the basis for an alternative economic future

Against this background, Peter Victor called for the time to come up with a new story and came back to his initial statement that economics, which had previously ignored the environment in its standard models, needed to be rethought. The question that moves him is: can we achieve full employment, poverty reduction and a balanced state budget while reducing CO 2 emissions? In short, can we steer the economy in our favor without having to keep growing?

At this point, Victor quoted Nobel laureate Richard Solow, who replied in 2008 to the question of whether capitalist economics is possible with little or no growth: “It is possible that the United States and Europe wants to […] continue to grow in the form of leisure time … “.

Below, Peter Victor reported that he had met with Tim Jackson after the publication of his book Prosperity without Growth , in order to communicate on the development of an ecological macroeconomics, which should form the basis for an alternative economic future. It expands the economic cycle between households and businesses by exchanging labor, land and capital and goods and services by embedding them in a biophysical cycle, extracting resources, using natural services and having an impact on human economic activity , Thus, they combined the approach of ecological economics, which considers the interactions between the real economy and the environment, with modern monetary theory, which deals with money, credit and debt.

A better future is possible

On this basis, Victor and Jackson developed the ecological macroeconomic model LowGrow SFC ( LowGrow Stock-Flow Consistent Model ). In his talk, Victor explained the simulation model used by the two economists to draw three scenarios for the development of the Canadian economy by 2067. In the base case, current developments and relationships are updated. In the second case, greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced by pricing emissions in energy production, favoring environmentally friendly industries, and reversing mobility. In the third case of sustainable prosperity, there are the following measures: switching from brown to green investment, redistribution to reduce income inequality and poverty, lower population growth, and reduced working hours. Peter Victor presented the behavior of economic, social and environmental indicators in the three different scenarios, showing that economic growth, unemployment, public debt, inequality, working hours and household debt would be relatively similar in the first two cases. While the environmental impact would decrease in the second case, only the path of sustainable prosperity, the third scenario, would bring significant environmental and social benefits. This is also reflected in the aggregated Sustainable Prosperity Index . At the same time, Peter Victor showed that the third scenario would be economically viable.

On the question of whether little or no economic growth was compatible with capitalism, Victor presented two graphs illustrating the development of the share of capital and the rate of profit. The former would fall from just under 35% to 30% within 60 years, with the share of capital in the other two scenarios remaining fairly constant over the years. The drop in the rate of profit from 6% to 4-5% would also be modest, while it would increase only slightly in the other two scenarios. Against the background of these results, Victor joined the second sentence of Richard Solow’s quote: “There is no reason why capitalism could not survive with slow or even no growth.”

His closing words were used by Peter Victor to emphasize that a better future is possible. It is now up to us to decide which path we will take: either we will continue to strive for economic growth, which will give us a bleak future in the medium term, or we will embark on the alternative path of sustainable prosperity. However, Victor notes that the Window of Opportunity has shrunk ten years after the first issue of his book, so action is needed soon.

How can sustainable prosperity be achieved?

After a long round of applause, the round was opened to questions and discussions that focused on how to make a change to a better future possible. Thus, a listener spoke with the question of the incentives for change, which Peter Victor saw above all in the praise of natural consumption and the telling of new stories. Another participant inquired about concrete measures for change, with Victor pointing to the need for interplay between different disciplines, approaches and measures that could advance economic and social change. I was concerned with the question of the likelihood of implementing measures such as regulation in the face of power structures, avoiding Victor’s intention of using his model to highlight ways to improve the system. Whether the system we live in as part of the Sustainable Prosperity Path would still be called capitalism, or whether we would find entirely new ownership and production structures, would not be foreseeable.

After further discussions, in which Peter Victor emphasized, among other things, that he was modeling not degrowth but a stabilization of our economic activity, a young girl finally spoke up and asked Victor about his idea of ​​the relationship between humans and nature. After a short pause of reflection, he replied in simple language that he considered the present relationship of humans to nature, which is reflected in our economics, to be unhealthy. One of the reasons for this is that economics saw people as being independent of nature and defined nature exclusively as resources to be used. Peter Victor himself wanted to understand nature, that is, all human and non-human beings, as their own actors and respect their respective interests.

Posted in Uncategorized

Telling visions and living utopias

Anyone who has visions could help the political left!

Oliver Nachtwey, professor of sociology at the University of Basel, sees in the unawareness of the political left the most important reason for the crisis, in which especially the social-democratic parties of Europe are present in many countries:

“The malaise of the left has its origins in the fact that it has lost the imagination of another, a better world and the will to reach it. The Left has basically internalized the neo-liberal mantra that there is no alternative to global capitalism. Therefore, it is no force of the future, no driver of progress, no source of energy for reform efforts. It does not have its own narrative of a society beyond universal competition, limitless growth, environmental destruction, the dissolution of local communities, where every pore of life is made a commodity. “[1]

At least in terms of the lack of counter-narratives to limitless growth, Nachtwey seems to be right. In any case, in the election campaign for the 2017 general election, it was only parties that were regularly grouped together in reports on election results under the heading “Other”, which included a departure from the growth paradigm in their election program . In contrast, the SPD, in cooperation with the Union, has negotiated a plan for the next four years, in which the word “growth” in the sense of the unquestioned paradigm is mentioned 25 times. It seems to be synonymous with trust and carelessness.

They exist, the visions. They just have to be told, discussed and above all lived.

In addition to the societal and political problems that Nachtwey particularly addresses, Frank Adloff, Professor of Sociology at the University of Hamburg, emphasizes the ecological level as well. In a readable article he refers to civil society projects such as the common good economy and peer-to-peer networks, as well as approaches such as the convivialism debate. All these projects and ideas have their origins in the need to create a livable future for all people within the ecological limits of the earth. Adloff points out that many ideas and visions already exist and are lived. However, “so far, these convivial experiments often abruptly side by side and learn by politics more of a disability than a promotion” [2].

It is clear to Adloff that economic growth has become obsolete as a global goal and that ways must be found to democratize the economic sphere. And where the cake is no longer growing, as he thinks it will soon be for the global North anyway, social justice must be achieved through redistribution. And: “In relation to the North-South relationship, a policy of conviviality must rely on global redistribution.” [2].

If a post-growth society is to be successful in terms of an inclusive, inter-generational and intragenerationally fair and ecological way of life, then these two debates must be linked together: the unawareness of the political left and the struggle for an alternative narrative of ubiquitous economization. These two debates have the potential to experience upheaval through their connection – one in content, the other in particular, in the sense that it could be brought to the breadth of society. The ideas, collaborations, and networks that may one day grow out of it could help to think and create a future worth living.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Joining forces for a good life – blog post growth

The multiple crisis of capitalism

The starting point for ‘ radical alternatives’ is the crisis of global capitalism attested by Alberto Acosta and Ulrich Brand, which began in 2008. This one has many faces. It includes not only the finance and production sectors, but also the areas of politics, ethics, the social and last but not least – the ecology and culture. It is becoming increasingly apparent that capitalism is unable to guarantee a good life for large sections of the population. Experiencing inequality and injustice is proving popular in many countries around the world for authoritarian and xenophobic forces. Therefore, it becomes more and more urgent to set up alternatives in the political discourse “whose feasibility must be crystallized in the political struggle.” (16) It is the task of this book to point out these so-called ‘radical alternatives’ and to connect already existing ones. In particular, the transformation strategies of the global North: degrowth or post-growth and those of the South: “Buen Vivir” and post-extractivism are presented in order to point out similarities and possibilities of their mutual complementation and linkage.

Transformation as a way out of the civilization crisis

Generally, the authors point out, the crisis is not just a crisis of the economic system, but a crisis of contemporary civilization. The exploitation of man and nature is too serious, the crisis of international politics palpable, the injustice in the distribution of wealth too great. In order to prevent major political, social and ecological collapses, profound solutions were needed that would have to trigger the social protagonists of the global North and South alike, since the key to a change in the social mobilization. After all, change can not take place if it is just waiting for the industrialized countries that are committed to the mantra of economic growth to be in constant competition with the emerging economies and supported by global structures.

Dialogues between the alternatives

Degrowth and post-extractivism, which were previously hardly related, provide gem. The authors have fruitful points of connection, as they criticize the same logic of growth-based capitalism: the imperial production and lifestyle, which is increasingly adopted from the global north in the south, and the extractivism, the global south through its, to this day, ongoing colonial structures dependent on commodity demand in the north. The main obstacle to the implementation of both alternatives is primarily a clinging to the imperial production and way of life. A cultural change that redefines the concept of welfare and removes the dichotomy between nature and man is therefore essential. In addition, nature must be de-economized. The authors complain that both concepts use a very diffuse concept of politics and the state, which stands in the way of their strengthening. Legislation, in particular, is an effective instrument for protecting the achievements of the transformation process by, for example, granting more rights to communities and non-human beings, such as flora and fauna.

Transformation without master plan

For the success of a socio-ecological transformation, the authors demand a more radical democracy, for example through direct democratic elements esp. At the municipal level. However, plurality, conflict and conflicts are part of this emancipatory democracy, which requires “a lot of effort and a lot of creativity” (134). In addition, alternative lifestyles based on social justice and sustainability should be politically and institutionally supported. In addition to a learning process, this includes a democratization of knowledge and not least a “utopian dimension” (158). The authors negate the necessity of a master plan. Rather, in their absence they see “one of the greatest possibilities, since they liberate from dogmatic and authoritarian adventures” (132). All in all, the book is written in a concise and comprehensible way and is thus suitable for a broad public, which is stimulated by the coherence and passion of argumentation for thinking and – at best – acting – even without special expertise. However, it remains questionable whether Acosta and Brands timetable, which consciously evades a master plan, proves to be suitable in view of the time pressure (only 9 years to the 1.5 degree target!).

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Where is the sufficiency in energy scenarios?

Are behavioral and lifestyle changes in global energy scenario studies considered as an option to significantly reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the future? This question was the focus of a study that I conducted together with colleagues Marie-Christine Gröne, Uwe Schneidewind, Hans-Jochen Luhmann, Johannes Venjakob and Benjamin Best and whose results were published last year in a contribution to the journal “Technological Forecasting and Social Change “has been published (Samadi et al. 2017). The motivation for the article was the realization that the topic “sufficiency” and the discussion about possible instruments for their promotion in the energy and climate policy discussion in Germany as well as in many other countries seem to play practically no role – and that despite the increasing urgency of resolute greenhouse gas emission reductions. You should not want to ‘write off’ an option, not even the sufficiency option.

In our article entitled “Sufficiency in Energy Scenario Studies: Taking the Potential Benefits of Lifestyle Changes Into Account,” we use a relatively broad definition of sufficiency, according to which sufficient behavior a) through the change of individual preferences, b) through cease changes in relative prices (eg through changes in tax rates) and c) through politically determined bids or prohibitions.

In the article, we argue that one reason for the widespread suppression of the sufficiency option in politics is probably the fact that the existing climate protection potentials of sufficiency measures are not or only insufficiently taken into account in policy advice. An important element of energy policy advice is energy scenarios that describe possible future developments in the energy system. Such scenarios, in our view, have the task of presenting to policy all the significant options that can be used to achieve key energy and climate policy goals.

In our study, we analyze three global energy scenarios from the following three studies:

  • energy [r] evolution – A Sustainable World Energy Outlook 2015 (Teske et al. 2015)
  • Energy Technology Perspectives 2015 (IEA 2015a)
  • World Energy Outlook 2015 (IEA 2015b)

We looked at the assumptions made there regarding future sufficiency measures.

Two of the scenarios are from two different publications of the International Energy Agency (IEA), another scenario from a study commissioned by u. a. by Greenpeace International (Teske et al., 2015). These three scenario studies or regularly updated series of studies play an important role in the international debate on energy and climate policy. Each study, which describes several scenarios, selected the most ambitious climate change scenario.

Our look at these scenarios showed that none of the climate change scenarios examined suggest that people will significantly change their consumption behavior over the next decades compared to a reference development (ie a development without significant climate change measures). In all three scenarios behavioral changes are only accepted in the transport sector. There is a certain shift towards more energy-efficient modes of transport compared to the respective reference scenarios. H. the share of bus and rail traffic increases, while the share of car traffic and air traffic decline. (Since a change in the mode of transport is accompanied by not inconsiderable changes in behavior, we define the shift to less energy- and CO 2 -intensive modes of transport than a sufficiency measure.)

In addition to the modal shift, two of the studies, in their most ambitious climate change scenarios, assume that passenger traffic performance can be reduced to some extent compared to the respective reference scenario.

 

The study commissioned by Greenpeace and others, in its most ambitious scenario – in comparison to its reference scenario – also explicitly assumes the future purchase of smaller cars. Similarly, one of the two IEA studies (IEA 2015a) states that at least one way to make road passenger transport more efficient is to switch to smaller and / or less powerful vehicles.

The following table provides an overview of the types of behavioral and lifestyle changes that are considered in the three ambitious climate change scenarios analyzed. It also contrasts these changes with examples of other types of behavioral and lifestyle changes that, according to various studies (eg Faber et al., 2012, Hallström et al., 2015, van Sluisveld et al 2016, Stehfest et al., 2009), address energy needs and related CO 2 emissions. Could significantly reduce emissions.

The table shows that in the three analyzed scenarios, only a small part of the conceivable behavioral and lifestyle changes that could be used for climate protection were taken into account. The scenarios are based exclusively on (limited) behavioral and lifestyle changes in the transport sector, mostly in the form of modal shift. The impact of these changes on the total CO 2 emissions of the energy sector is limited. In the IEA study Energy Technology Perspectives 2015 z. For example, modal shifts and traffic reductions in the most ambitious scenario lead to CO 2 emission reductions of around 2.5 Gt in 2050 (compared to the reference scenario). This represents only 6% of total emissions reductions in the energy sector (41 Gt) in 2050. In contrast, technological solutions in the transport sector (more efficient vehicles and low-carbon fuels) lead to an almost threefold reduction in annual emissions (around 7 Gt).

The analysis in our article shows that, at least on a global scale, the most well-known energy scenario studies largely hide the climate protection potential of sufficiency. Against the background of the above-mentioned importance of comprehensive consideration of relevant climate protection strategies in energy scenarios, we therefore recommend scenario developers or clients of scenario studies to focus much more on the climate protection potentials of far-reaching behavioral and lifestyle changes, for example in the form of separate “sufficiency” measures. scenarios “. In addition to exclusively or predominantly technical progress setting scenarios, scenarios would also be presented which rely heavily on sufficiency. Within such scenarios, implementation requirements and challenges for more sufficiency could also be explored and discussed. On such a broader basis, politics and society could then decide which measures should actually be taken to achieve the climate protection goals.

In our article, we also refer to various scenario studies that do just that (eg Berghof et al., 2005, Johansson et al., 2012, Sessa and Ricci 2014, UNEP 2002, UNEP 2007, WEC 2013). Unfortunately, in the best-known global energy scenarios (as well as in Germany’s best-known national energy scenarios, as we have examined in other studies), the identification of the climate-protection potential of sufficiency is still largely a “blind spot” that should urgently be addressed in the future.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized