Environmental Implications of Three Types of Economies: Brown, Blue and Green

Sustainable economic systems are focused on sustainable development rather than economic growth. The four types of economic systems all have environmental implications as do the three types of economies reviewed in this post (brown, blue, and green). It should be stated at the outset that most modern economies are mixed but increasingly climate change, air pollution, and environmental degradation are driving efforts to transition away from the brown economy toward both the blue and the green economies. Brown Economy A brown economy is one in which economic growth is largely dependent on environmentally destructive forms of activity, especially fossil fuels...

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The 10 Colors of the Economy and Sustainable Development Goals

When it comes to the economy there are many ways that we can categorize different approaches . One of the ways we can do this is through color-coding these different economic approaches. Here is a brief description of ten colors that can be used to describe different areas of economic focus:  Brown, green, blue, golden, purple, white, silver, red, gray, and black economies. Some of these color-coded economic systems have dual meanings so in several cases asterisks and brief footnotes have been added to briefly define alternate meanings. 1. The brown economy A brown economy is focused on economic growth that...

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Banks are Backing Away from Fossil Fuels and Embracing Sustainability

Major banks have been slow to act but it appears as thought they are moving away from dirty energy. Big lending institutions have have pledged to support emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Climate agreement, however, until recently their words have not matched their deeds.   Banks have been involved with sustainability for years and many have set sustainability investment goals. Almost ten years ago Bank of America and Wells Fargo each committed $50 billion for financing sustainable initiatives and green transport. In 2015 Citigroup announced that they would invest 150 billion in sustainability.  Valerie Smith, director of corporate sustainability at...

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The Plague Economy: Inequality and the Preoccupation with Growth

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fault lines that highlight weaknesses in our economic system. Unfettered capitalism imperils biodiversity and endangers the future of civilization. Julia Steinberger echoes these sentiments saying that confronting capitalism is the only way we can "avoid disaster". We will not be able to protect the natural world or combat global warming without changes in corporate governance and more specifically the fiduciary obligation to deliver profits. Even more fundamentally we need to challenge the business ethos that seeks profit at the expense of everything else. Our metrics must reflect the costs and the risks associated with environmental...

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Energy Job Losses in the US Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused massive energy job losses. Some sectors have been hit harder than others and while many energy jobs will return others may not. Our economies will be decimated by the coronavirus and millions of jobs have disappeared forever, however, there is an upside to this deadly pandemic that bodes well for employment opportunities in some sectors over the long term. This is the worst unemployment situation since the Great Depression. So far 36 million Americans have lost their jobs and according to Fed estimates, a total of 47 million jobs could be lost resulting in an unemployment rate...

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The Economic Opportunities Associated with Carbon Removal

  Technologies that draw down carbon represent a massive economic opportunity. The global carbon capture and sequestration market is projected to reach USD 8.05 billion by 2021, representing a compounded annual growth rate of 13.6 percent from 2016 to 2021. According to some estimates carbon capture and utilization (CCU)** alone will be a $1 trillion market by 2030. Others have suggested that capture is a $4 trillion opportunity.  There are numerous co-benefits associated with reducing greenhouse gas emissions in addition to climate mitigation. This includes those that improve health. These health co-benefits could be worth $100 US per tonne of...

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Net Economic Gains from Climate Action

Cost is a commonly cited reason for resistance to climate action, however when we factor co-benefits and the real costs of inaction the logic for action is overwhelming  Research shows that when we include reduced death and disease as well as increased technological innovation and other co-benefits, the costs of climate action offer a  net economic benefit. When we add up the costs of action and compare them to the costs of inaction the value equation becomes clear.  The benefits of climate action far outweigh the costs.  This includes $160 trillion dollars worth of savings associated with climate action and...

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The Booming Green Economy: The Number of Renewable Energy Jobs Crush Fossil Fuels

Renewable energy is on the rise and the sun is setting on fossil fuels. The economic dominance of the old energy industry is coming to an end and a new economic powerhouse is gaining ground. Demand for coal has collapsed and oil and gas are sure to follow. Led by renewable energy the green economy now provides many more jobs than the fossil fuel industry.  IRENA reports that there were 11 million people employed in renewable energy last year. The report also says transitioning away from fossil fuels towards renewables makes good economic sense. This includes $160 trillion in savings...

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The Size of the Green Economy and the Growth of Renewable Energy

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports that there are $160 trillion of savings associated with renewables and other climate actions. Led by renewable energy the green economy is growing by leaps and bounds yet it is still an undervalued opportunity. Clean energy is benefiting from the mutually reinforcing factors of increasing demand and declining costs. Tremendous declines in the price of solar and battery storage make a compelling business case for renewables. Despite resistance from the federal government, the US is seeing a renewable energy boom as states and utilities are setting ambitious clean energy goals. According to an...

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Energy Jobs and the Economy: Kenney’s Plans for Alberta

Alberta's new premiere Jason Kenney claims that by prioritizing the fossil fuel industry he can increase jobs and grow the economy. This was the central plank in Kenney's United Conservative Party (UCP) election platform. It is also an oft repeated refrain from conservative politicians.  However, this view fails to acknowledge that market forces are powering the demise of traditional energy. There is mounting evidence demonstrating that macroeconomic trends are driving the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. Despite the politically motivated rhetoric of conservative politician, the evidence shows that the fossil fuel industry is dying. Alberta is not...

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