Saturday, November 9, 2013

Environment and Work-Reflections

As I mentioned in the previous blogposts, I had the opportunity to attend the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) 2013 Conference on Environment and Work in Stockholm and I'm still trying to chew all the impressions from the different speakers and debates.  Personally, I was  more optimistic about the equation the environment + work = 2 problems = one solution during the morning part of the conference than towards the end. Why? Perhaps because in the end I had the feeling that we do know what is needed, but that it is not realistic to expect much change soon because the politicians are waiting for the public opinion to clearly demand changes before they take any initiative and it seems their perception is that the majority of the voters don't want change.

PM Nilsson, political editor at DI,  said in the last debate "Forget about transition happening within 10 to 20 years". But can we wait that long?

On a positive note there were solutions presented during the conference and the ones that caught my attention most (perhaps because I studied environmental economics) were ideas about taxing carbon:

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation's (SSNC) chairman, Mikael Karlsson, was pointing out that GDP is not a good measurement for development and that we should not consider this indicator so much. Wat is important is to move away from a fossil fuel economy by increasing the tax on fossil fuels like OECD has suggested. This way we could stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship and have the environmental benefits from lower carbon emissions.

Also, one of my favorite speakers was Staffan Laestadius, professor in Industrial Development at KTH, (Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm) and he was also referring to tax solutions:
  1. Green VAT: benefit green
  2. Black VAT: punish the unsustainable
  3. Lower VAT in all services

On a different note, one aspect that I felt was not discussed during the conference was the idea that everyone could work less and share the jobs. I've blogged a little bit about that before here and here. In short, the economist John Keynes wrote in the 60's of the possibility of everyone working less to produce the same amount and not consume more in the future which would give us the possibility to both prosper but also have more freetime.

The international speaker during the conference was Angelica Thomas from Germany and IG Metall. She talked about why they support the Geman "Energiwende" or energy transformation. You can listen to her speech here and see the Q&A session with her and Swedish IT- and energy minister Anna-Karin Hatt here.

More interesting links (in Swedish):
We also had yummy vegetarian lunch and awesome entertainment by Anna Christoffersson during the day:

Thanks to SSNC for once again organizing an interesting conference!

Om ni vill läsa om konferensen på svenska kolla in de andra bloggarna och naturskyddsföreningens hemsida:

It’s easy being green
Karins miljöblogg
U&We blogg

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