In February 2015, in a discussion on how to face climate justice, the former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres stated: “this is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history”. In December 2015 the world celebrated the Paris Agreement, however maintaining the global temperature rise below the 2°C agreed in Paris will not be sufficient to avoid climate change and its catastrophic impacts. Not to mention that, despite the pledges made by our political leaders in Paris, several specialists believe we still are on pace for 4°C of global warming.
Three distinguished experts – Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency; Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Michel Genet, Director at Etopia – were invited to explore the connections between the current economic system and climate change, and to discuss whether changes are needed in the current economic system in order to achieve climate justice and to avoid a climate disaster.
Director Bruyninckx praised the efforts made by the European Union to move towards a circular economy and for the investments made in the green economy, but also stressed the urgency of moving from an “efficiency paradigm towards a transition paradigm”.
Professor Pollin believes in the possibility of “becoming emission free by 2050”. Furthermore, the co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) is convinced that, thanks to the green economy, enough jobs will be created also for those currently working in high-emissions industries.
The New Economics Foundation and the Global Hub for the Common Good are strong advocates of an economy that works for people and the planet, rather than the other way around, and collaborate towards the creation of a new economy that is more sustainable, fair and collaborative, an economy where people really take control.
Director Genet likewise stressed how, in his words, “small is a beautiful approach” to transform the current economy in a new and more sustainable economy. Empowering local communities, creating structures of ownership and control, is central if we want to stay within planetary boundaries and avoid a climate disaster.
This initiative, moderated by Alessio Pisano, an Italian journalist based in Brussels, was organised under the framework of the Global New Economy and Social Innovation (NESI) Forum – an international forum taking place in Malaga in April 2017 addressed to change-makers working to co-create a more sustainable, fair, collaborative and people-oriented new economy.
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European Research & Policy Network Co-ordinator
New Economics Foundation