The Foundation was invited to participate in a workshop initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers on flexible emissions fees at the Royal College of Technology, Stockholm the 15th September, 2011. The work to develop the fee system comes from the Foundation’s urgent reaction to the understanding that, as Professor Tim Jackson points out, the economic system itself is driving us to undermine the very conditions needed for our own prosperity.
The workshop was opened by KTH professor Magnus Enell, who took on the assignment from the Council to undertake this preliminary look at flexible fees.
The Working Group on Sustainable Consumption and Production (HKP) is a cross-sector forum encompassing Environment, Nutrition and Consumer Sectors aiming to develop, coordinate and evaluate the necessary steering and control instruments to stimulate sustainable consumption and production.
Stefan Nordin, from the Swedish TILLVÄXTVERKET and member of the working group, presented the project from the group’s perspective. In the case of this workshop, the group wants an initial exploration into how flexible fee mechanisms can combine forceful and effective action to meet climate change and other environmental challenges with stronger and more sustainable economic development, in both developed and developing countries. This follows on from the recent publication “Greening the Economy”:
We will be posting material we collect from this ground breaking approach that brought together leading sustainability thinkers in the areas of economy, environment and energy to discuss economic approaches that rapidly transition to halt climate system disruption, ensure precious elements like nitrogen and phosphorous are recycled responsibly, and use fossil energy supplies sparingly whist continuing to provide a standard of living for the growing numbers on Earth.
Below is the presentation from Anders Höglund, the originator of the concept of flexible emission fees. Anders introduced the background to the concept.
The video above explains the Foundation’s emissions fee mechanism in more practical terms with an example of application to phosphorous conservation.
For a more detailed explanation, see our White Paper.
Natural Step founder, Karl-Henrik Robért, shared his perspective on the need to view sustainability from a long-term perspective, to work cross-discipline and in a unified framework. He states: “flexible fees offers an elegant pragmatic means for policy making to support strategic sustainable development”.
Professor Johan Rockström at Stockholm Environment Institute used just one diagram on the blackboard in the lecture room. His message was stark and uncompromising: we have reached and in some cases gone over Earth’s limits to carrying capacity and into a rapid degradation of natural systems and resources.
To hear the Professor in his own words, see this clip called “Planetary Crunch Time”.
The last presentation came from Arno Rosemarin PhD, a Senior Research Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute. Dr Rosemarin was invited due to his extensive research into the challenge of phosphorous.
“The strength of flexible fees is that the small consumer that goes green can be rewarded. With today’s fee system eg for fuels, water and electricity, efficient end-users get no rewards and only make it cheaper for the larger consumers. Phosphorus-use efficiency is something that needs drastic improvement since only 20% of the mined phosphorus ends up in the food we consume. So there are many levels along the chain from mining to fertiliser production to fertiliser use, food production, food choices and consumption and finally waste treatment and reuse where various economic instruments can be implemented. Flexible fees connected to choice of food (beef vs fowl) and the amount consumed is one area worth exploring. Even the whole area of solid and liquid waste is worth looking at since this has a utility-based fee structure.”
Rosemarin, A., de Bruijne, G. and Caldwell, I. (2009). Peak Phosphorus: the
Next Inconvenient Truth. The Broker 15: 6-9.
Rosemarin A., (2011) Peak phosphorus and the eutrophication of surface waters: a symptom of disconnected agricultural and sanitation policies. On the Water Front2011_otwf
Rosemarin, A., Ekane, N., Caldwell, I., Kvarnström, E., Mc-Conville, J., Ruben, C. and Fogde, M. (2008) Pathways for sustainable sanitation: achieving the Millennium Development Goals. London, UK: IWA Publishing. 56p.
Rosemarin A., Schröder, J., Dagerskog L., Cordell, D., Smit B., (2010) Future supply of phosphorus in agriculture and the need to maximise efficiency of use and reuse. International Fertiliser Society. 27p ifs-2011-proc-685
Rosemarin A., Schröder, J., Cordell, D., Smit B., (2010) Sustainable Use of Phosphorus. Wageningen, DLO Foundation
UNEP YEAR BOOK 2011., Phosphorus and Food Production phosphorus_uyb2011