A localised world is possible – four talented exponents with complementary messages 1: Helena Norberg-Hodge

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Helena Norberg-Hodge (ISEC/Local Futures) writes:

“I have seen how the global economy destroys people’s fundamental relationships with one another and the Earth by breaking down interdependent local economies.

“To counter this, I believe that we need community and political engagement in the form of resistance and renewal – resistance to further globalisation, along with the renewal of localised systems in food, energy, finance and other sectors of the economy. I’m convinced that this is the most strategic path towards genuine sustainability”.

She sends an invitation to the forthcoming Economics of Happiness conference in Bristol, October 19-21.

ISEC is working in collaboration with Happy City and the former mayor of Bristol. Jonathan will be chairing.

Helena explains: “Localization is not about eliminating international trade, or reducing all economic activity to a village level, but about shifting the power from transnational corporations to nation states, while simultaneously building up regional self-reliance”. 

Two Local Futures initiatives: Planet Local and the International Alliance on Localization

Planet Local is a web series showcasing inspiring localization initiatives from around the world. The series highlights diverse examples of localization in action in such areas as community renewable energy, local food and farming, local economy, eco-villages, alternative education, radical democracy, the local commons, and more. Planet Local demonstrates that the movement for localization is broader and more diverse than many people realize, manifesting as a powerful mosaic of small-scale solutions happening on a planet-wide scale. The series aims to inspire a politics of hope, grounded in actual existing projects that too often go unnoticed by the mainstream media.

https://medium.com/planet-local

People and groups from 58 different countries have joined the International Alliance

The International Alliance for Localisation (IAL) was originally conceived as a way to formalise and expand this informal network of groups and individuals who are working on issues that fall under the broad umbrella of this global-to-local shift network. The hope is that the IAL will help to catalyse a powerful global movement for localisation.

The general public and even most local groups themselves are often unaware that they are, in fact, part of a rapidly growing worldwide localisation movement. We believe that linking together these groups that are currently operating in isolation can greatly strengthen them all.

Here are some of the key individuals who have been part of the consensus-building process:

  • Michael Shuman, one of the first economists to promote localisation;
  • Camila Moreno, a Brazilian trade and agriculture activist;
  • Bayo Akomolafe, a Nigerian writer, researcher and storyteller;
  • Manish Jain, an ‘unlearning’ advocate and co-founder of India’s Swaraj University;
  • Carlo Sibilia, a member of Italy’s 5 Star Movement;
  • Keibo Oiwa, a leader of Japan’s ‘Slow Life’ movement;
  • Yoji Kamata, founder of the Ancient Futures Association of Japan;
  • Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics and The Ascent of Humanity;
  • Judy Wicks, co-founder of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies);
  • Carol Black, director and editor of the film Schooling the World;
  • Richard Heinberg, ‘peak oil’ expert and author;
  • Ross Jackson, founder of the Global Ecovillage Network;
  • and Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

The mission of the IAL is two-fold: to facilitate dialogue and collaboration among the multitude of groups and individuals who are engaged in grass-roots localisation initiatives; and also to enable this diverse localisation movement to speak with a more unified voice in resistance to further globalisation – one loud and powerful enough to break through the ‘noise’ of corporate-dominated political and economic discourse.

 

 

 

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FT: Shinzo Abe has called on all countries to join Japan and act now to save our planet

The admirable Japan Times reports that for the past three months, this phrase: どうなっちゃってるの今年の夏 (Dō natchatteru no kotoshi no natsu, (What’s up with this summer?) was a standard greeting among friends and colleagues in Japan. The summer of 2018 broke meteorological records, devastating entire regions along the coast of western Japan. There were unprecedented levels of rain, heat, landslides and hurricanes.

The country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called on all countries to join Japan and act now to save our planet. In the Financial Times he writes:

This summer western Japan was battered by the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 25 years. Unprecedented torrential rain and landslides ravaged the residents of western Japan this summer, killing more than 200 people, and ruining hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.

Roads are cut off by a mudslide at a section of the Kyushu Expressway in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture (all pictures and emphases added)

Meanwhile, severe scorching heatwaves struck the country and resulted in approximately 160 deaths. Fierce heat also gripped North America and Europe, and hurricanes and typhoons hit the US and Philippines.

Global warming increases carbon dioxide and acidifies the ocean, damaging its ability to self-purify. Even worse, proliferating marine plastic pollution threatens marine ecosystems and eventually, our own health.

The international community has taken steps to address climate change with forward-looking and long-term goals. An agreement was adopted in Paris in 2015 with the participation of all major economies including China and India. The following year, I went a step further at the Ise-Shima summit in Japan, as G7 members committed to devising long-term strategies.

Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations, be it the elderly or the young and in developed and developing countries alike.

Rescuers help local residents to evacuate in the town of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture

The problem is exacerbating more quickly than we expected. We must take more robust actions. And swiftly.

The way forward is clear. We must save both the green of the earth and the blue of its oceans.

Our goals must be firmly based on the latest scientific knowledge. As we learn more, through the work and expertise of the scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the entire world should take appropriate measures accordingly.

All countries must engage with the same level of urgency. Some are still increasing greenhouse gas emissions and emit more than 2bn tonnes annually according to the International Energy Agency. All countries must put promises into practice. Developed countries should provide support to developing countries for fulfilling their obligations.

As part of their long-term strategies, governments should promote innovation to drive new growth and spread the net widely for new ideas.

No alternatives should be excluded. Japan has goals such as creating ultra-high-capacity storage batteries, further decentralising and digitising automated energy control systems, and evolving into a hydrogen-based energy society. Countries should also rank the competitiveness of a company based on its development and dissemination of future-oriented technologies. This would encourage companies to invest for the long term.

Momentum is already growing in the private sector. The number of companies engaging in environment, social and governance-focused investment or issuing green bonds is rising dramatically. Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund is one of them. Investors now require businesses to analyse environmental challenges and disclose potential risks as well as opportunities.

We must also focus on reducing emissions from infrastructure.

In Japan, our Shinkansen high-speed rail network prevents congestion and boosts the overall fuel efficiency of transportation nationwide. We also have set our carmakers a goal to cut the greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle they produce by 80 per cent by 2050 so as to realise “Well-to-Wheel Zero Emission”.

We must simultaneously boost economic growth and reduce the use of fossil fuels. That means cutting the costs and improving the reliability of renewable energy. In Japan, the volume of electricity generated from renewable sources has increased 2.5-fold in the past four years. Japan will host the world’s first ministerial meeting focused on hydrogen energy. We cannot overlook safe nuclear power generation and controls on emissions of methane and hydrofluorocarbons.

Manufacturers with large-scale greenhouse gas emissions should be encouraged to update their production methods. Countries should stop excessive steel production, which causes massive greenhouse gas emissions and creates imbalances in markets.

Finally we should tap data processing and communications advances to speed up the innovation cycle. Investing in energy transition and the sharing economy will ensure economic growth and dramatically reduce greenhouse gases.

Addressing climate change, marine pollution, and disaster risk reduction are critical pillars for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Japan will preside over the G20 next year and focus on accelerating the virtuous cycle of environmental protection and economic growth.

When the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development is held in Japan, we will extend support to African countries. We invite the rest of the world to join us in tackling this tough challenge.

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Endnote:

Today the Japan Times brings news of a data processing and communications innovation from ‘informed sources’. The Japanese government plans to launch in 2019 a system in which information on earthquakes, heavy rain and other disasters collected by government agencies and local authorities is displayed on electronic maps. Work to connect central government agencies’ computers to the electronic map system is likely to be completed by next March, setting the stage for full operations.

A photo taken on April 25, 2016, shows devastation from earthquakes in Minamiaso, Kumamoto Prefecture. Electronic maps to show information on disasters were used on a trial basis for the Kumamoto quake.

The system is intended to facilitate the sharing of disaster information and help enable adequate disaster responses by relevant bodies. During the heavy rain in the northern part of the Kyushu in summer 2017, it was used for search and rescue operations by police and firefighters. Soon after the giant earthquake in Hokkaido earlier this month, it was utilized for the supply of relief goods by the central government.

 

Basic Income poll: 41% support – 17% oppose. Charlie Young, Populus/RSA


 

Populus research for the RSA finds that the public as a whole is open to the idea of a Basic Income – a regular payment made by government to citizens – especially in the context of rising economic uncertainty. 40% would support local Basic Income experiments in their area, 15% would be opposed.

The Populus report by Charlie Young (RSA Associate, right) points out that despite these positive findings, 38% of the public think this measure is “unaffordable”. The most popular funding option for a Basic Income is raising a progressive tax so the rich pay more into the scheme than they would get out (39% would support this).

Protecting the most vulnerable in society was found to be by far the most important moral principle for a welfare system in the eyes of the public.

Populus found that 49% think a Basic Income would “reduce the stigma associated with receiving benefits” with 16% disagreeing.

Responding to these findings, Anthony Painter, Director of the RSA’s Action and Research Centre, said: “The Universal Credit experiment is failing on its own terms, while the wider welfare state is riddled with complexities and underpinned by draconian sanctions . . . our poll shows that in an era of widespread economic insecurity, policy-makers have the public’s support to start exploring innovative alternatives to today’s failing and unpopular welfare system”.

The report has recorded examples of Basic Income and Basic Income-type models around the world which should be considered. Anthony Painter ends: “Basic Income is no magic bullet, but with HM Opposition exploring the idea and the Scottish Government looking to pilot it with four Scottish councils, Basic Income is increasingly seen as one plausible response to modern economic insecurity.”

 

View the Full Data Tables here.

Highly recommended, Charlie Young’s Twitter feed.

 

 

 

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Farm Groups request Stormont to put forward a bill for legislation on Northern Ireland farm gate prices: William Taylor

Farming families and rural merchants and traders in Northern Ireland by and large have hit the financial buffers. The convenor of NI Farm Groups, William Taylor (right), who farms in Coleraine, writes:

Farmers find themselves in the position where the sale price for the majority of commodities they produce does not even cover the input costs.  Banks are finding it increasing difficult to justify lending money to increasingly non-profitable farmers, instead rural merchants, vets etc are being forced into the position of secondary bankers to many farmers.  1 in 4 UK family farms are living below the poverty line (2012 figures) – all in all a disastrous situation with no future is now with us.

Meanwhile, large corporate food wholesalers, large corporate food retailers and, to a lesser extent, co-op and corporate large food processors, continue to maintain their enormous unsustainable profits.

No need for consumers to pay more, instead farmers want their fair share of current corporate food sector profits 

Rural NI must have its share of the financial food cake.  Northern Ireland Farm Groups currently including Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA), Farmers For Action (FFA) and National Beef Association (NBA) would make it clear that there is no need for consumers to pay more other than normal inflationary increases, instead we want our fair share of the money, currently going into the corporate food sector profits and it will take legislation to obtain it.

Currently individual family farmers are too weak in the market place to command a decent price for their produce and unfortunately to date, even with attempts by farm organisations across Europe, it has been impossible to bring farmers together in sufficient numbers and strength to overcome the power and influence of the corporates. They know this and abuse the fact every hour of every day to their profitable advantage.  Indeed, the EU has admitted publicly that:

  • food security is now top of the agenda
  • this is about agriculture not just any old industry and
  • farmers need a safety net – Westminster pay attention! 

When Northern Ireland’s government returns, it will have no choice but provide that safety net for Northern Ireland’s family farmers, if NI Plc is to succeed in lieu of the deficit from Westminster and Brussels.

The Groups’ proposal is timely in that for Northern Ireland the Brexit Flux and whatever outcome, cannot and will not succeed without profitable farmers in NI.  So what is the Groups proposal?  Quite simple, almost exactly the same as that submitted by Fairness for Farmers in Europe as a stakeholder to the 2010/11 CAP review: that of NI legislation being passed, stating that NI farmers must be paid a minimum of the cost of production, plus a margin inflation linked for their produce. If the ‘free’ market moves up then fine, the farmer will get the benefit, however, when it falls the legislation is there to provide the safety net limit.

Where is the evidence for the success of this proposal?

There is that age old saying, “When the farmer is doing well then everyone else is doing well” but sounder evidence is the fact that during the 30’s depression in the US, President Roosevelt could not get the US economy to move until he put money in farmers pockets.  NI farmers with money in their pockets would purchase products and services from an average of 123 different types of businesses from plastics, to machinery, to veterinary to accountants, to oil and lubricant suppliers, to building supplies, the list goes on.  Indeed there are only two types of wealthy countries in the world or a combination of both, ie those who are energy rich (ie oil and gas) or those with a good agricultural base, Zimbabwe a disastrous case in point.

How would legislation on NI farm gate prices work?

In recent years the Livestock and Meat Commission employed McKinsey’s International Consultants to professionally work out the cost of production including money for re-investment of beef and lamb production in Northern Ireland.  McKinsey’s did so very successfully by gleaning the information from the top beef and sheep farmers across NI.  They were totally independent of processor or retailer or even farmer influence, all of these factors a must.  These results could easily be done for all the food related commodities produced by NI farmers and adjusted for inflation or deflation every 6 months.

On a European scale this proposal would require flexible supply control, ie quotas, on all commodities but quotas without value.  However, in NI because we are small in comparison to the whole of the EU influence this would not be required.  The results of such legislation would in fact have a useful quota effect in itself.  It would create balance in the countryside creating good change in farming practices including:

  • A reduction in available conacre as owners decide farming is now a profitable option and farm their land themselves
  • One sector for example could not expand over and above any other sector, due to lack of land because the balanced requirement for land would come from all commodity sectors
  • Pressure on land would once again help farmers to increase good farming practices and invest in new technology and good farming methods such as instead of cutting and spraying rushes, lime would be applied due to money available; hedges would be brought under control, fences would be mended and replaced, drainage would be carried out. All this in harmony with nature as profitable farmers can easily produce more food in Northern Ireland whilst abiding by commonsense environmental laws.
  • d) There would be a certain amount of musical chairs of farming practices. In recent years many farmers moved into dairying or chickens because of the then perceived regular income which has since been eroded, many farmers may be perhaps beef, vegetables or other minded, they would therefore switch enterprise due to profitable options, thereby creating a balanced agriculture in NI.

It would in effect be a new dawn in NI agriculture, a land mark where farmers could afford to embrace new technology, to repair their sheds or build new more efficient ones, they could afford to purchase much needed new efficient safety equipment, they could afford to pay staff, to cut the current slavery hours currently being worked by farming families and their staff.

In fact the Groups can confirm that if this legislation is introduced it could create a minimum of 10,000-20,000 new professional on-farm jobs followed by approximately four times the number of related jobs.  Without exception, every farmer we have put the question to – ‘If legislation was in place to provide you with a minimum of the cost of production inflation linked plus a margin for your produce would you employ another member of staff or members of staff,  the answer is always a loud  – of course  I would!’

Furthermore, approximately 60% of NI farmers are part time – many of those would go full time if agriculture was profitable thereby creating a vacancy for others – by now you will have got the scale of this proposal for Northern Ireland.

Legislation

The legislation must go through on a welfare issue, for the sake of protecting farming families from corporate ravages for endless profit.

Due to the current rural financial crisis and after the experience of 2012’s wet Spring, 2017’s wet year and 2018’s extreme dry year, where many NI farmers were faced with extreme weather conditions and no spare money in their pockets, many being currently unable to feed their families, a welfare precedent was established: an ongoing increase in calls to farm crisis centres by farmers at the end of their tethers with corporates growing fatter by the day while rural NI has been drained dry of finance and resources.

Precedents are already being set with regard to the EU “free market”:

  • by the Scottish Government on minimum priced alcohol in supermarkets proposal on a welfare issue
  • by the Welsh Government’s success in already implementing this legislation
  • and for the second time in recent years the EU’s intervention in the free market by capping EU roaming charges by mobile phone companies.

In short on the plus side if Stormont were to legislate on NI farmgate prices as proposed by the NI Farm Groups, then virtually overnight a minimum of 10-20,000 initial jobs plus would be created and over the next 5 years there would follow an additional x4 multiplier of jobs. Every job on the farm in addition to the 15,000 processing industry jobs the Agri Food Sector would increase to almost 100,000 NI jobs minimum – an exceptional result which would allow NI Plc to firmly turn the prosperity corner and not look back.

To conclude, the Farm Groups hereby request that Stormont will put forward a Bill for Legislation on Northern Ireland farmgate prices as a matter of urgency under a rural welfare crisis where lives are at stake, stating that a minimum of the cost of production plus a margin inflation linked must be paid at the farm gate for all the food produced in Northern Ireland.

NI family farmers need your help in protecting their incomes from the corporates, just as you need them every meal time! 

William Taylor

56 Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine,

 Co L’derry, N Ireland,

BT51 4NU

Tel/Fax  028 703 43419

Email  taylor.w@btconnect.com

 

 

 

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As policy makers, institutions and individuals prepare for Brexit, David Viney (Localise West Midlands) offers two options

With the government’s own economic impact assessments for the West Midlands making grim reading – the worst case scenarios reminiscent of the early 1980s recessions that devastated the social and economic fabric of the region – it is vital that policy makers, institutions and individuals prepare for what is likely to be a disruptive period for the UK economy.

In the de-industrialised areas of the West Midlands, there is a high concentration of leave voters. Economically and politically disempowered, these areas have performed poorly, in orthodox economic development terms, since the 1980s. They have experienced comparatively low levels of private sector and government investment and entrenched social issues linked to poverty. Put simply, the West Midlands hasn’t fared well out of the last 40 years of UK economic policy.

It seems that for the West Midlands, Brexit could be a perfect storm, with:

. a lack of political power to shape national policy to meet its specific needs,
• job losses after opening its markets to intense global competition, leading to.
• lower state investment likely to affect the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

So the most important questions are “what next?” and “Are the changes being planned for us, not by us, really in our interest?

It seems that two options exist….

More of the same?

Much of the hype around Brexit from government and its main advocates has been around the notion of a ‘Global Britain’, the narrative about this uses snappy messaging like ‘freedom’ ‘something new’ and ‘we will all benefit’. In reality ‘Global Britain’ is simply a rebranding and upscaling of the of current economic model we have followed for 40 years – and the West Midlands hasn’t done particularly well out of it.

Take food as an example of what this ‘Global Britain’ might mean. Early reports about potential ‘free trade’ deals have focused on cheaper food imports from places such as America, New Zealand and Australia. The result of this is that smaller UK farmers and food producers won’t be able to compete and could go bust, coupled with the enormous environmental costs of shipping food and goods long distances. So it appears behind the snappy title, Global Britain will be bad for local producers, but a bonanza for massive corporations, with capital and jobs leaving Britain in return for environmentally unsustainable food products and in some cases lower quality food.

In this scenario it seems more apparent by the day, that a real danger of Brexit will be to open Britain up to a free trade ‘free for all’ that could result in lower food, safety and environmental protections.

Something different?

Let’s be radical! If any situation called for creative thinking and new solutions, Brexit is it. Another Brexit mantra is ‘Taking back Control’ an amorphous phrase that in practice will most likely entail a further concentration of power in one place, Westminster.

Even with the devolution deal secured by the West Midlands, economic policy is generally created for the benefit of one part of the UK economy – London and the Southeast – and if this trend continues it will probably lead to further divergence between London and the rest of the UK, without the power to set policy that works locally.

So how about a radical redistribution of economic and political power, not only devolved to regional but right down to the communities we all live in?

Getting Local; Community Economic Development

awip lwm graphic 1

Imagine a new style of economy that values people and creates a resilient and sustainable West Midlands. An economic model where local people lead and participate as owners, investors, purchasers and wealth creators. Far-fetched? Not really. Community Economic Development (CED) exists in practice in communities across the world, from hyper local food networks, energy co-operatives, complementary currencies and larger private, trade union & public-sector partnerships that grow localised economic activity for the benefit of communities.

Evidence proves this approach is a better way to grow jobs, harnessing the assets of local communities, rather than relying on distant private and public-sector owners with little understanding of the local areas. LWM’s research has found that higher levels of small and micro businesses and local ownership lead to higher levels of economic success, job creation, social inclusion, civic engagement, wellbeing and local distinctiveness.

So maybe the right question should be ‘How do we make an economy that works for everyone, in which we all have a meaningful stake?’

Why?

We could spend another 40 years following the current economic model, sending profits into the offshore accounts of multinationals, damaging our environment and generally carrying on regardless, or we could spend the next 40 years working together to ensure the West Midlands is at the forefront of a new social and economic revolution.

Anything else is simply unsustainable . . .  

Visit Localising Prosperity, a LWM programme funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, to read about activity based on making the most of local enterprise, existing business supply chains, networks, community assets and human potential.

David Viney is Administration & Communications Officer for LWM. His professional interests include asset-based community development, regional economic disparity and how discrimination impacts on minority health outcomes.

 

 

 

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Our food system: smarter metrics will lead to different conclusions from those based simply on the market price of outputs: Pavan Sukhdev

 

Pavan Sukhdev who studied physics at Oxford and moved into the international banking sector, is founder and chief executive of GIST Advisory, a sustainability consultancy based in Mumbai, India and Head of UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative.

He is also CEO of TEEBAgriFood, which sets out an evaluation approach that accounts for the impacts of the food system on livelihoods, equity, food security, health, greenhouse-gas emissions, water quality and biodiversity. This approach can reveal effects that are invisible using assessments that consider only the production and marketing segments of food-value chains. The insights gained can support better decision-making for policymakers, farmers, agribusinesses and civil society.

Sukhdev writes in Nature: “Today’s food systems are broken. Our diets are the leading cause of disease. Some 800 million people worldwide still suffer from hunger, while more than 2 billion are overweight or obese. As much as 57% of global greenhouse-gas emissions come from food-related activities, which include everything from clearing land for agriculture, to growing, gathering, processing and packaging, to transporting farm goods and disposing of waste”.

He points out the inadequacy of the metrics we use to evaluate these systems: the most common yardstick is ‘productivity per hectare’ – far too narrow.

Broader metrics are needed to account for the interacting complex of agricultural lands, pastures, inland fisheries, natural ecosystems, labour, infrastructure, technology, policies, markets and traditions that are involved in growing, processing, distributing and consuming food. He continues:

“Health experts know to look beyond calorie counts to understand nutrition. Policymakers are less willing to accept gross domestic product as a proxy for national well-being and are turning to expanded measures of progress. And some private-sector leaders are looking beyond financial profit and loss, and assessing the impacts of their business on natural, human and social capital”.

He draws attention to a report released this week by the United Nations Environment Programme called ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food’ (TEEBAgriFood) which demonstrates how to capture the complex reality of food systems through a wide-angle lens, commenting: “If this work helps to divert even a fraction of brain power and political will from maximizing yields to maximizing broader benefits, it will make for healthier people, communities and ecosystems”.

See this video on http://teebweb.org/agrifood/. Scroll down to find the 12 minute Keynote Speech: Prof. Johan Rockström with CEO Pavan Sukhdev.

One study based in New Zealand (H. S. Sandhu et al. Ecol. Econ. 64, 835–848; 2008) used a broader framework to compare conventional and organic agriculture, and found that important, non-marketed, ecosystem services have much higher value in the organic sector:

Researchers considered the benefits provided by 15 conventional and 14 organic fields used for crops such as carrots, peas and wheat. These benefits included two ‘provisioning’ ecosystem services (food and raw materials) and nine ‘regulating and supporting’ services, such as pollination, biological pest control and nutrient cycling. Organic farming practices such as composting and maintaining vegetation cover lead to higher biomass and diversity, below and above ground. Conventional agriculture suppresses these and diminishes soil health, farm biodiversity, water quality and air quality. The study found that the total economic value of ecosystem services from organic fields ranged from US$1,610 to US$19,420 per hectare per year; that from conventional fields ranged from $1,270 to $14,570 per hectare per year.

This analysis only partially employed the TEEBAgrifood framework because it covered only production. To investigate other trade-offs and impacts, researchers should also compare food affordability and the impacts of nutrition, human health and social equity between the two agricultural systems.

A second example concerns pesticide policies.

In the late 1980s, Thailand began encouraging the use of pesticides to increase agricultural yields. In 2010, productivity gains started to fall and policymakers became increasingly aware of pesticides’ harmful effects on the environment and health.

Researchers examined the effects of increasing taxes to make pesticides more expensive, and of encouraging farmers to adopt non-chemical forms of pest management (S. Praneetvatakul et al. Environ. Sci. Policy 27, 103–113; 2013). They considered the costs of enforcing food-safety standards. They also examined the risks of exposure to chemical agents. These risks were higher for farm workers than for consumers, so the researchers argued for an increased environmental tax. This, combined with support to encourage a switch to new farming practices, would deliver the greatest benefits most effectively, the researchers argued. Standard productivity measures could not have helped to assess such nuanced effects.

Sukhdev continues:

“We need many more studies to show how considering broad impacts leads to conclusions that differ from those based simply on market prices of output. Several pilots are planned or under way, and I encourage more researchers to test the evaluation tool in studies of farming, food products and policy scenarios, as well as in dietary comparisons.

“If we can keep the pressure of evidence strong for just five years, I expect to start to see large changes in how agricultural, health and environmental ministries across the world set policies, incentives, subsidies and taxes.

“Only if we diagnose our food system honestly, can we heal it”.

Source: Nature 558, 7 (2018)  doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05328-1

 

 

 

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‘Build it in Britain’: Jeremy Corbyn at the EEF Technology Hub in Birmingham

Speech to the EEF manufacturers organisation, formerly the Engineering Employers’ Federation, which works with manufacturing, engineering and technology-based businesses in the UK – edited, emphases added

The launch of the ‘Build it in Britain’ campaign, Labour’s campaign to ensure a stronger future for industry with better jobs and opportunities here in Birmingham and in every part of Britain.

While the finance sector has continued to grow, a decade after the bankers’ crash and the super-rich have grown still richer. For too long, many of our communities have lost out in the global economy free-for-all. The few have succeeded, but at the expense of the many.

Mr Corbyn thanked John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, for all the work that he has done over the last three years to change the economic debate in this country, away from the dogma of austerity and cuts without end and winning the argument to focus instead on the need for investment if we are to succeed in the future. Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Business Secretary, was also thanked for developing Labour’s plans for a real industrial strategy that will transform the shape of our economy and ensure prosperity is shared by every region and nation of the UK.

The thinking that it’s good, even advanced, for our country to manufacture less and less and to rely instead on cheap labour abroad to produce imports is rejected.

While the Conservatives are continuing as they always have done – skewing policy to the narrowest interests in the City of London while ignoring the needs of the vast majority in their bungled Brexit negotiations – Labour is setting out a genuinely new economic direction for our country.

This is necessary because for the last forty years a kind of magical thinking has dominated the way Britain is run. It has been said that it’s good, even advanced, for this country to manufacture less and less and to rely instead on cheap labour abroad to produce imports while we focus on the City of London and the financial sector.

While many economics professionals, politicians and City types insisted this was all a strength, the banking crash confirmed it was in fact a profound weakness.

A lack of support for manufacturing is sucking the dynamism out of our economy, pay from the pockets of workers and any hope of secure well-paid jobs from a generation of young people.

It must be Labour’s job in government to reprogram our economy so that it stops working for the few and begins working for the many. We will build things here again that for too long have been built abroad because we have failed to invest. Because Labour is committed to supporting our manufacturing industries and the skills of workers in this country we want to make sure the government uses more of its own money to buy here in Britain.

The state spends over £200 billion per year in the private sector. That spending power alone gives us levers to stimulate industry, to encourage business to act in people’s interests by encouraging genuine enterprise, fairness, cutting edge investment, high-quality service and doing right by communities.

Why is the Government sending a £1 billion contract and all the skilled jobs, tax revenues and work in the supply chain to build three new Fleet Solid Support Ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary overseas when we have the shipyards to build them here? There are workers in Liverpool, Belfast, Rosyth and Plymouth who are keen to do that work but when I visited some of those shipyards I learned something else too – there are not enough workers being trained here in the UK to meet the potential demand.

Labour is determined to see public contracts provide public benefit using our money to nurture and grow our industries and to expand the tax base

We have plenty of capacity to build train carriages in the UK and yet repeatedly over recent years these contracts have been farmed out abroad, costing our economy crucial investment, jobs for workers and tax revenues. Carrying on like this is simply not sustainable.

Between 2014 and 2017 Network Rail awarded contracts worth tens of millions of pounds to companies outside the UK while the NHS awarded contracts worth over a billion.

In the same period the Ministry of Defence awarded contracts elsewhere worth over £1.5 billion pounds even though we are under no obligation under either European or international law to open up defence contracts to overseas bidders.

The next Labour government will bring contracts back in-house, ending the racket of outsourcing that has turned public services into a cash cow for the few.

We will use the huge weight of the government’s purchasing power to support our workers and industries, using a three-pronged approach:

  • new procurement rules so that government supports jobs and industry;
  • investing in infrastructure to support companies here in Britain to keep goods flowing efficiently and costs low;
  • increasing investment in education, skills and lifelong learning through a National Education Service that we will create;
  • doing much more to support small and medium sized enterprises to participate in the tendering process instead of them being dominated by faceless multinationals.

Too often, we have been told by Conservatives who are ideologically opposed to supporting our industries that EU rules prevent us from supporting our own economy. But if you go to Germany you’ll struggle to find a train that wasn’t built there, even though they’re currently governed by the same rules as us.

When the steel crisis hit in 2016 Italy, Germany and France all intervened legally under existing state aid rules but our government sat back and did nothing. We will include public interest into these big public contracts, as was done with the contract to build the High Speed 2 railway.

By considering public interest such as job creation and the supply chains, we can grow our economy in a way that works for everybody. In the words of the Public Accounts Committee “there has emerged a small group of large companies which are expert at winning contracts but do not always deliver a good service”.

The next Labour government is committed to creating high quality jobs in every region and nation of the UK, to develop new industries and support good domestic businesses – large and small – extending the rights of local authorities in parts of the country worst hit by forty years of industrial decline to be exempt from some World Trade Organisation rules, as some US states are, and therefore be able to require provision for local suppliers and jobs in public contracts.

Industrial strategy – one example of this, the solar industry.

Once innovators, we are now falling back as the industry takes off across Europe. And why? British solar firms were hit by cuts to subsidies in 2015 and 2016 and changes to business rates for buildings with rooftop panels, to save a few pounds in the short term, costing us jobs and innovation.

As a result, between now and 2022 France is forecast to add five times as much solar capacity as the UK, Germany ten times.

Our strategy will help us upgrade industry to secure good jobs, win public contracts and compete on the international stage. It will help us build a clean, green 21st century economy, right here in the UK, building solar, wind farms and tidal lagoons to help us to tackle climate change.

It will focus on creating clusters to boost domestic supply chains to develop the virtuous cycle, where the success of one industry or company helps others.

We’ll give support to the sectors that we need to deliver the public contracts, to radically upgrade our creaking infrastructure, a core part of our industrial strategy.

investment plans to reprogram our economy for infrastructure, industry and for people, so that it works for every town, city and village in the country

It is why we are committed to a National Education Service which will provide both academic and vocational education on an equal footing to anybody that wants it, from cradle to grave. We cannot continue to see education as a commodity to be bought and sold, it must be there to give people the skills they need to flourish throughout their lives, equipping them with the skills we need to thrive.

Wanting to build it in Britain is not turning away from the world, nor some return to protectionism or Trump-style trade wars

It is about changing course so that people feel real control over their local economy and have good jobs that produce a consistent rise in pay and living standards, in every part of the UK. That’s why we are so determined to help companies in the UK that export their goods

Unlike the Conservatives, we know that after Brexit the single biggest assistance we can give our exporters is securing full, tariff free access to our biggest export market, the European Union. It’s so important that we seek to negotiate a new, comprehensive UK-EU customs union, with a British say in all future trade deal and arrangements.

BMW, Airbus, and companies after company has warned of the real and damaging effects of Conservative customs chaos. Theresa May and her warring cabinet should think again, even at this late stage and reconsider the option of negotiating a brand-new customs union. This decision needn’t be a matter of ideology, or divisions in the Tory Party. It’s a matter of practical common sense.

The Labour Party and the Institute of Directors, the CBI and the TUC agree, we need to negotiate a new customs union.

A botched Tory Brexit will sell our manufacturers short with the fantasy of a free trading buccaneering future which in reality would be a nightmare of our public services sold to multinational companies and our country in hock to Donald Trump whilst we all eat chlorinated chicken.

The rise of finance is linked to the demise of industry

Between 1970 and 2007 finance sector output grew from 5% to 15 % of total economic output. Manufacturing meanwhile decreased from 32% to 12%.

The next Labour government will rebalance the economy so that there is prosperity in every region and nation. We will do this by setting up a national investment bank and a network of regional development banks to provide capital to the productive, real economy that secures good skilled jobs.

We will focus relentlessly on ending the housing crisis caused by the Conservatives and their uncompromising commitment to the free market, building homes for the many not investment opportunities for the few and with them will come a new generation of zero carbon homes, creating new training opportunities and skilled jobs.

And we will shift taxation to disincentivise financial speculation, for example with our financial transaction tax, so that we all share in the wealth we all create. We want an economy with high wages, high levels of trade union representation for workers and high levels of educational opportunities for everybody.

We’re offering a new deal for businesses that want to get on.

The very richest companies must pay a bit more tax and pay their workers better and in return we will train our people to have the skills the economy needs, upgrade our creaking infrastructure and provide the planning and support to help industry compete on the world stage.

Firms our government does business with will have to:

  • properly pay their taxes,
  • respect workers’ rights,
  • provide equal opportunities,
  • protect the environment,
  • train their workers, pay their suppliers on time

and end boardroom excess by moving to a 20-1 limit on the gap between the lowest and highest paid.

The deal that we want to make with businesses will benefit the whole economy.

We can get rid of the magical thinking of the free market that has led to a minority becoming extremely rich at the expense of everybody else, replacing it with a new economy, transformed so that it’s run for and by the many, not the few.

And we will forge a new relationship between workers, manufacturers, communities and government to end the unregulated bankers’ rip off which has dehumanised our values and our economy while allowing a few to profit at the expense of the many.

For too many of our people today the spread of insecure work, low pay and zero hours or temporary contracts is causing stress, debt and despondency. Labour will reprogram the economy so that it works for the people of Britain and not against them. Now is the time to put people’s jobs and living standards first. We want to see well-paid jobs in the industries of the future, fuelling the tax revenues that fund public services and the NHS, rebuilding communities and increasing living standards for all. And we will build this economy, this future fair for all, right here in Britain.

To read the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Build it in Britain’ speech at the EEF Technology Hub, go to https://labourlist.org/2018/07/build-it-in-britain-again-corbyns-full-speech/.

 

 

 

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