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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Circular economy in diagrams: where logic breaks down and where financial incentives can work

Posted by steve on December 3, 2013

Are your circle economy diagrams confusing your audience? This article aims to help you communicate clearly. As a staunch aficionado of reaching a resilient economy through sustainability I am all for circle economy thinking- if it ensures people get food on the table and a roof over their heads. Unclear delivery will not help our cause. We talk of circle economy from two angles: economy as a form of housekeeping and economy in terms of monetary flows. These are not always the same thing. The final section suggests a solution.

fos1

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Learning from the ECO-ISLANDS conference

Posted by steve on September 15, 2013

Bornholm2

One of the electric cars you rent with a simple text message

Arriving at this year’s ECO ISLANDS conference, held on the Danish Island of Bornholm, I wasn’t expecting it to feel like a Transition meeting. I was attending the conference to discuss things related to my day job – pollution taxes. I was delighted as the conference progressed to discover that many islands around the world are going through their own transition process, even if most of them hadn’t heard of Transition Towns. ECO ISLANDS is a network of Islands that have stated that they are aiming toward sustainability, by signing something called the Accord, a statement of intent that over 50 islands have already signed. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Shifting Power, Shifting Economy

Posted by steve on

Lindesberg1

Lindsberg Conference Center basking in the late summer sunshine

Lindsberg conference center, just outside the Swedish town of Falun, saw three days of Powershift Sweden with PUSH, a youth movement conference for action for a fossil-free society. As a fellow of ISSS (the Institute of Swedish Safety and Security) and one of the founders of Transition Sweden, I brought the complementary currency ITK to the seminar  as the conference’s volunteer currency. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Swedish Foundation sees fees on raw materials can create circular economy

Posted by steve on June 16, 2013

Product_matrixJust released, the latest version of the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation’s White paper presents in detail how nations can usher in the zero emission, no waste society using a special fee mechanism on raw materials. Download the paper from the Foundation’s web site

 People get worried that we should reduce consumerism, as our way of life is driving resource use and emissions. Just reducing will collapse the economy. Instead, the Foundation proposes fees on introduction of raw materials into the economy.  These fees are raised until the consumption and emission of materials ceases. But the money is redirected into  the economy – paid out equally to all taxpayers. This ensures people have money to buy what they need.

The paper is the result of several years’ work, including projects with the Nordic Council of Ministers on Carbon fees and fees on phosphorous and nitrogen.

It is essential reading for those working with the transition of society away from the resource-hungry to the equitable, sustainable future many long for. It provides a sound basis for practical approaches to pricing and managing pollution.

The paper, along with other versions and  the short summary can be downloaded here.

http://tssef.se/?p=605

The circular economy can be ushered this way: substances that are not biological of origin ( iron, other metals,  mined substances etc) cost to enter the system, and the price is raised until they do not leave it. Biological nutrients circulate too, but enter and leave the economy without burdening recipient or reducing ecological maturity of the source. At the same time, money to enable these transactions circulates freely in the opposite direction.

 

Where we need innovation: the economic system

Posted by steve on May 27, 2013

TAXESThe present economic system is a patchwork of taxes and subsidies and ideas that have been around since at least the 1800s. Tax upon tax has been added trying to bring control and equality to the system.

The picture here shows just the CATEGORIES of transactions involved and then just the most common. If we are going to create a sustainable way of life, to transform to where we need to go to ensure food and water and a roof for all, we need to make some sweeping changes.

Looking at it like this, it  may not be too  difficult: We could start by not allowing any poisoning of the commons, and planning a fast phase-out of externalisation in all forms.  Putting a tax on what we don’t want, and making the things we do cheap is another strategy.

Trying to be sustainable without reforming the economic system is probably a waste of time, as it presents a compact wall of resistance to any move to sustainability. And it is so complex no-one seems to have a clear of idea of how it works anyway!

 

READ MORE

Webinar on flexible emission fee mechanisms

White paper on externalisation

 

The triple-circle economy

Posted by steve on April 18, 2013

Combining the full circle of biological, technical and financial products we can create the sustainable society

This diagram comes from the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation http://tssef.se. 

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Transition to biomass society with a complementary currency

Posted by steve on April 4, 2013

Cover_biomass_currency This white paper discusses the challenge of replacing fossil-fueled supply chains with less energy-intense renewable solutions whilst rapidly reducing the carbon in the atmosphere. It suggests that a complimentary currency, backed by carbon fees and pledges from landowners to sequester carbon using soil and biochar, could be the answer.

Read the paper here. A complementary currency R4

Time to form the culture we want – starting with small acts of kindness

Posted by steve on February 10, 2013

This is a translation and adaptation of the leader column I submitted – in my capacity as JAK board member – to JAK’s alternative economy magazine, Grus och Guld. JAK is a member- owned cooperative bank offering interest-free loans.

Like many JAK members I am driven by the desire to change society for the better. Not only to counteract the negative impact of interest on our economy, but the whole system’s negative effects on people. It is sad how money has penetrated our culture so deeply that it is determining the very fundamentals of our way of life. Soon, we won’t be able to “ afford” to be those wonderful, generous, creative, spiritual, loving, appreciative beings that we are in our true nature.

Still, it is not only the monetary system itself that shapes our culture, but the attitudes this money culture carries. It is attitudes not system that mean a farmer can hardly live on producing healthy food while a heart surgeon, who fixes the effects of poor diet, lives in luxury.

As an immigrant to Sweden in the 80’s I see how the hard side of Swedish culture continues to evolve. Despite priding itself on being a socialist nation, they accept domination of state, oligopolies and other strong forces, they accept individuals competing themselves into burn-out and they accept exclusion, even to the extent that people go homeless, toothless and hungry. This development is self-perpetuating. Companies encourage their executives to take risks, cut costs and act on the edge of what is legal in order to achieve profit. This in turn fosters a social psychopathic work ethic that recently had a private old-age care company badly mistreating the old people in their care just to squeeze a few more percentage points.

There are alternatives and possibilities, not least in the Transition movement. Last summer I had the privilege to meet with representatives of alternatives currencies in England. We did a membership count. (It went something like this I don’t remember exact numbers.) Totnes: 2000, Brixton:1000, Bristol: 3000, JAK: 37.000. A silence fell in the room where I can just imagine the thoughts the others were having – what THEY could achieve with 30 000 + members!

Although I do not have money to put into my JAK account, and even if I cannot borrow to put into a community project, there are things I can do, preferably together with other members of JAK. We can get together locally, talk to each other, discuss how we can become creators and bearers of a new, human, Swedish folk culture.

We can do small acts of kindness to our neighbours. And just inviting them for coffee, forming groups that do things together helps create the feeling that as long as we can form trusting relationships with each other there is enough for all – even an abundance – of what we need to live well. And it is just that – good feelings  and good relationships – that form the heart of a healthy culture.

No corporation or government is going to contribute to this development. We must create it ourselves. We can start by looking at the real capital we have in our communities – social, human, natural as well as the infrastructure built by the toil of our forefathers. Respect and trust are absolutely the most solid currencies available. It befalls those of us who recognise what’s going on – and you know if you are one of them – to do what we can to grow this kind of capital. Everything else is just numbers that we were enticed into putting our faith in by those who had the most to gain from perpetuating the illusion.

New eco-village design

Posted by steve on

sketch2This new design (Click on it to see a larger image) is a first sketch for the assignment to design a village layout for a project in Brazil, a village that will house a conference centre in the middle of six sustainable farms. The centre and village will get its food (and coffee) from the neighbouring farms on subscription, and the farm will produce biogas and biochar, combining the char with the organic leftovers from the gas process will produce a soil enhancement that goes back to the farmers.

The design is based on the idea of radiality, from my book “Inventing for the Sustainable Planet”. Radiality is the design approach of living arrangements, villages or even cities, being designed in circular form.

Some things to note:

The technical park houses toilets showers and laundry to separate urine and grey water for use in the market garden. The toilets are between the large meeting place and the central plaza.

We put the parking lot outside the area to make the place car-free, and designed it using the permaculture idea of zones to minimize walking. The areas that people would like to be private are separate from the public areas and to keep noise interference down, farthest from the meeting centre.

The central plaza houses a cafe and restaurant, a place to pick the food up (using the eco- unit concept of food subscription) and a place to hang out. Being in the centre it is  a place for chance meetings and to catch people as they go past.

This is just early stages, but to secure a time-share in the village investments are starting at around 20,000 Euros. Contact me if you are interested in getting in at this early stage!

The V2V fund

Posted by steve on February 6, 2013

V2VFUND_datasheet

A lot of people nowadays long for a different lifestyle – a feeling of being close to nature, being part of a community and having somewhere they can enjoy living with a good, green conscience. But making the change is a huge step for many. You need time to get to know what you are getting into and a house or apartment in the village needs  financing.

 

We are offering interested individuals the chance, by participating in our fund, to visit the amazing range of projects for longer or shorter stays. At the same time, we are offering financing for village projects.

The idea is simple: just purchase a number of units from us. These units come with points that you can redeem for accommodation at any of our participating villages. With units come exclusive offers to try out the sustainable life-style at excellent prices – all accommodation redeemed with points gives you a guaranteed generous discount. And as the money goes in advance to the villages, you know that your money is helping a good cause already from the get-go.

If you purchase more than 10 units you can use them as points against shares in the village initiative of your choice to become a member and even buy/lease a house. Shares are always offered at a discount to unit holders.

FUNDING VILLAGE PROJECTS

But there is more: we offer village initiatives the chance to get interest-free funding as well as access to a wide network of potentially interested villagers. The income from the sale of units is transferred to participating villages for them to invest in developing their initiative.  Villages get the funding interest-free, and in return offer a discount on accommodation.

The idea is at the concept stage just now, we are looking for villages and individuals to prepare a pilot scheme. Contact us if your are interested.

V2V_Fund_datasheet