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Cents and Sustainability

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Table of Contents

Forewords by Dr Gro Brundtland, Dr Kenneth G. Ruffing and Dr Rajendra Pachauri 1. Securing 'Our Common Future' 2. Achieving Economic Growth and Reducing Environmental Pressures 3. Factors that can Undermine or Even Block Efforts to Achieve Decoupling 4. Factors that affect Poorer Nations' Ability to Achieve Decoupling 5. Informing and Developing National Strategies for Decoupling 6. Responding to the Complexity of Climate Change 7. Decoupling Economic Growth from Greenhouse Gas Emissions 8. Decoupling Economic Growth from Loss of Biodiversity and the Deterioration of Natural Systems 9. Decoupling Economic Growth from Freshwater Extraction 10. Decoupling Economic Growth from Waste Production 11. Decoupling Economic Growth from Air Pollution 12. Reducing Air Pollution through Public Interest Litigation: The Delhi Pollution Case

About the Author

Dr Michael H. Smith, a Research Fellow at the Australian National University's Fenner School of Environment and Society, is a co-founder of The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) and was the Research Director from 2002-2010, hosted in-kind by ANU. Working with the TNEP team Michael co-authored a number of books, online education programs and industry sustainability action plans focusing on how to operationalise sustainable development from an ecological modernisation perspective. Michael's PhD, entitled 'Advancing and Resolving The Great Sustainability Debates and Discourses', demonstrated that it was possible to cost effectively achieve significant decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, freshwater withdrawal, air pollution and waste production. Karlson 'Charlie' Hargroves, a co-founder and the Director of The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) is hosted in-kind as a Research Fellow at Griffith University, graduating from civil and structural engineering at the University of Adelaide, and undertaking his PhD supervised by Professor Peter Newman at Curtin University. Together with the TNEP team, he has developed a number of books, journal papers, online education programs, industry action plans, and community capacity building programs, working leaders in the field across the world. In 2005 Charlie spent 12 months on secondment as the CEO of Natural Capitalism Inc, USA, with Hunter Lovins, and represents the team as an Associate Member of the Club of Rome. Cheryl Desha is the Deputy Director of The Natural Edge Project (TNEP), and a Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Griffith University, graduating from Environmental Engineering from Griffith University, then working in an international consulting engineering firm for four years, in addition to government secondments. In 2005 Cheryl was selected as the Engineers Australia Young Professional Engineer of the Year. Working with the TNEP team Cheryl has co-authored a number of books, journal papers, online education programs, industry action plans, and community capacity building programs. She completed her PhD in 2010 on rapid curriculum renewal towards education for sustainable development. The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) is a sustainable development think-tank which operates as a collaborative partnership for research, education, and policy development on innovation for sustainable development. TNEP's mission is to contribute to and succinctly communicate leading research, case studies, tools, policy and strategies for achieving sustainable development across government, business and civil society.


'I commend the team from The Natural Edge Project and their partners for undertaking to develop a response to 'Our Common Future' to mark its 20th anniversary.' Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland 'The Natural Edge Project is to be commended for tackling this vitally important issue and highlighting where in the world already communities, regions and nations are creating solutions to this great challenge of our time.' R. K. Pachauri, Chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 'Cents and Sustainability, with its inspiring world class success stories ... will help empower you to play your part in helping achieve a sustainable future.' Jim MacNeill, O.C., Secretary General, World Commission on Environment and Development 'A tremendous achievement and a timely and important contribution. I commend it as essential reading for anyone who is concerned with long-term sustainability and prosperity.' Robert Purves, Chair, Purves Environmental Fund 'Cents and Sustainability offers a coherent argument and a collection of evidence to show how prudent policies, market innovation and sheer common sense can lead to green development solutions that cost less, destroy less and benefit all. This message of this book is clear. It's time to act!' Dr Noeleen Hezyer, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific 'Cents and Sustainability offers abundant evidence that, supported by appropriate policies and institutions, the technical ability exists for us to do much, much more to decouple human development from environmental degradation. The only negative is that this empowering work was not with us in the 1990s.' Professor Stephen Dovers, Director, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University 'We can do well by doing good, and in fact must if the world is to be both sustainable and just. Cents and Sustainability is an important road map to achieve these complementary goals.' Professor Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University, Contributor to all four IPCC Assessments, and Author of 'Science as a Contact Sport' 'Cents and Sustainability helps move the debate beyond 'growth versus the environment', focusing on the potential for dramatic increases in resource productivity. Now more than ever, realizing the vision of sustainable development is imperative to achieve a prosperous, just and ecologically viable common future.' Professor Eban Goodstein, Director of the Bard Centre for Environmental Policy, Bard College, New York and author of 'The Trade-off Myth: Fact and Fiction about Jobs and the Environment' 'By attending to the detail set out in this book, more jobs and, in the long run, more 'economic' growth can be expected. A Global Green New Deal is possible. The way forward is to decouple economic growth from environmental damage. There is sense in putting aside some cents for the future.' Professor Mike Young, Executive Director, The Environment Institute, The University of Adelaide, and founding member of The Wentworth Group 'Population growth and climate change, combined with our current approaches to doing business and managing water, are placing our livelihoods, our communities, and the environment at risk. This publication suggests concrete alternatives for managing both water and business in ways that will help sustain our communities long-term.' Cheryl Davis, San Francisco Water Utility Commission, and International Water Association. 'Cents and Sustainability is a wonderful compilation of ... examples of how addressing environmental pressures can be achieved in ways that represent a win-win for businesses, the global economy and society.' Pam Eliason, Senior Associate Director and Industry Research Program Manager of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute 'Cents and Sustainability is a welcome reminder of what can and should be done to integrate economic growth and environmental sustainability. It also is serving notice, reminding us of what needs to be done to achieve the necessary scale of decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures to secure the resources to sustain coming generations.' Professor Walter Leal, Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development, and Chairman, International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP), HAW Hamburg, Germany 'I urge all leaders and decision makers to read this book, along with Factor Five, and to commit to achieving the scale of decoupling needed to ensure we stay within the ecological limits of the planet. If decoupling is implemented rapidly, with a focus on resource productivity, as this book shows, it will lead to higher economic and jobs growth than business as usual, not less.' Dr Ernst Von Weizsi? cker, Co-Chair UNEP International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, lead author of Factor Five: Transforming the Global Economic Through 80% Resource Productivity Improvements (Earthscan, 2010) 'Cents and Sustainability explains how economic development can be made to support environmental protection and not detract from it. Drawing together 20 years of theory and research, this volume highlights the path forward toward environmental sustainability.' Professor Daniel Esty, Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Center for Business & Environment at Yale. Lead author of 'Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage' (Yale University Press, 2006) 'We have long awaited a book that tackles the formidable analytic task of developing a framework and realistic strategy to simultaneously achieve environmental sustainability, economic and jobs growth, and poverty reduction. I hope Cents and Sustainability enjoys exceptional circulation success: it surely deserves to be on the desk -nay, in the head- of political leaders, policy analysts, environmental economists, systems ecologists, and all who play a prominent part in the management of our 'Only One Planet." Professor Norman Myers, Green College, and External Fellow of the James Martin Institute, Oxford University 'Cents and Sustainability shows that there does not have to be a trade-off between the economy and the environment, but this requires new thinking, new practice and effective policy to address market failures ... I commend the authors for their valuable contributions.' Dr Andrew Johnson, CSIRO Group Executive, Environment 'Central to any solution to the global change challenge is the decoupling of the continued economic growth required to enhance human well-being from the environmental impacts that such growth has traditionally caused. Practical examples of such decoupling abound in this wonderful book, giving us hope and inspiration that humanity can indeed move quickly onto a much more sustainable pathway.' Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director, Climate Change Institute, Australian National University 'Cents and Sustainability empowers readers by challenging widespread assumptions about the relationship between economic growth and environmental impacts. It gives us hope that, if we pursue intelligent policies with commitment, we can redefine this relationship.' Adjunct Prof Alan Pears AM, RMIT University Australia 'Cents and Sustainability confirms what I have long felt, that there is another way - decoupling business profits and economic growth from physical growth and pollution by as much as 75 - 90 per cent ... If this is done, it would unleash the biggest economic and employment boom ever, and create a just and sustainable future for all.' Hunter Lovins, President and Founder of the Natural Capitalism Solutions, co-author of Natural Capitalism: The Next Industrial Revolution, Factor 4: Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Usage, and The Climate Protection Manual for Cities 'Cents and Sustainability presents the latest even more compelling evidence that national solutions for sustainability are ready and waiting, tried and true ... this book takes a fresh look at our sustainable future.' Andrew Higham, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Technology Sub-Programme, and co-editor of Climate Change and Energy Insecurity: The Challenge for Peace, Security and Development 'A new growth model, achieving both economic development and environmental sustainability, is needed. Cents and Sustainability is a very timely contribution to the development of this new growth model, providing the evidence base of those policies that have already succeeded in decoupling environmental degradation from continued economic growth.' Dr Helen Mountford, Head of Climate Change, Natural Resources and Environmental Outlooks Division, OECD Environment Directorate, and co-author of the 2008 OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030 'Cents and Sustainability is an important contribution to the formulation of a realistic vision of sustainable 'economic' growth through its focus on decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures and how to combine this with efforts to reduce poverty.' Professor John Quiggan, ARC Federation Fellow in Economics and Political Science, University of Queensland, Australia 'There is now a growing consensus among the nations of the world that climate change should not exceed the 2 degree guardrail. Cents and Sustainability provides timely and valuable assistance to leaders and decision makers in achieving this goal.' Professor Brendan Mackey, The Australian National University, Chair, International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Climate Change Task Force 'This book is full of practical examples ... which show how action on climate change can improve productivity, the bottom line and thus economic growth. As such, this book is an important contribution to the debate on how to mitigate climate change in a way that also simultaneously boosts jobs and economic growth.' Archie Kasnet, Partner, Aedi Group, Social Entrepreneur 'We now know that we can only create a sustainable future if we take an integrated approach to our pressing problems of environmental degradation, resource limitations and poverty alleviation. Cents and Sustainability is a guide to that approach. Every decision-maker who wants to make a difference should be drawing on this wonderful resource.' Professor Ian Lowe, AO, President, Australian Conservation Foundation and joint Patron of The Natural Edge Project 'In the pursuit of prosperity and raising billions out of poverty we have inadvertently hard-coupled our ever upward development pathway with a voracious and wasteful use of natural resources. To avoid overshoot and collapse in our socio-economic and bio-physical systems we must decouple! We must kick start a sustainability revolution - one which sees an endless drive towards the limits of resource efficiency and at the same time one which sees prosperity grow and poverty diminish. To do this we need to bring Cents into the Sustainability into the debate in a much more powerful way. There is no trade off between the economy and the environment. The long term health of the former is hard-coupled to the health of the latter!' Greg Bourne, CEO World Wildlife Fund, Australia. Chair of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria and a Member of the CSIRO Sector Advisory Council to the Natural Resource Management and Environment Sector 'In the 21st century, we need an economy that grows and increases its value, but at the same time uses fewer resources. Our work, referenced in Cents and Sustainability, shows such 'decoupling' can be achieved through a transition from a linear (cradle to grave) to a closed loop (cradle to cradle) economy. Manufacturers are the key economic actors here as they can re-design their products to enable easier and higher levels of recycling and remanufacturing. Finally, incentives can be provided to encourage companies to move from simply selling products to also leasing products and selling a service instead. Such an approach rewards companies for making durable products. It provides a business model which creates sustainable profits by internalising the costs of waste whilst creating new jobs through increasing levels of remanufacturing.' Walter Stahel, Founder of the Product-Life Institute, Geneva, and author of The Performance Economy (2006) 'There has been three times that significant global momentum for action on the environment has been built, the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the 1992 World Summit on Environment and Development in Rio and the last few years thanks to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, The Stern Review and IPCC's 4th Assessment. In 1972 and 1992, momentum for action was rapidly lost as the world economy went into recession and the mistaken assumption, that action on the environment harms jobs and the economy, came to dominate. Post Copenhagen, it is vital that we do not let history repeat itself. This new publication Cents and Sustainability shows that, far from harming economic growth, rapid action on climate change and the environment is the key to unlocking new sources of 'green' jobs and productivity growth to underpin lasting global prosperity.' Molly Harris Olsen, Director of Eco Futures Pty Ltd and Convenor of the Australian National Business Leaders Forum for Sustainable Development, Philip Toyne, Director of Eco Futures Pty Ltd 'The future is about environmental protection which is affordable, practical, implementable, transferable and most importantly socially acceptable. This can only be achieved through decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures which means not only addressing the often forgotten environmental externalities and negative feedbacks in our current rear guard management approach, but being practical and getting ahead of the game. This requires engaging in proactive and invigorating policy integrated with practical on-ground options for action that redefine the way we do business. This means going from local sustainability demonstrations to transformative action which involves a 'whole of community' approach and addresses the way we fundamentally communicate with each other in a positive way. This book addresses the need for a new era of engagement which gets us out in front of the bus and lays the path for the bus to follow. I commend Cents and Sustainability to all local community leaders, sustainability officers and change agents.' Greg Bruce, Executive Manager, Integrated Sustainability Services Townsville City Council 'Cents and Sustainability shows that today's environmental challenges are really a series of great opportunities disguised as insolvable problems. One of the barriers to people seeing the opportunities is belief that action on the environment will cost too much and hence the more we do for the environment the worse of the economy will be and vica versa. Such win/lose belief systems offer no hope to reconciling our need to grow the economy with our need to conserve the ecosystems upon which our economy depends. Cents and Sustainability shows that economic growth (monetary growth) and the physical growth of the economy (with its associated pollution) are two different things and thus can be decoupled. With its decoupling framework, this book is significant for providing a sound and politically viable way to transform our economies so that their growth restores rather than harms the environment.' Candia Bruce, Director, Working On Sustainability, Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management 'Cents and Sustainability offers accessible scholarship married with clear pragmatic examples, realism and hope, exploring a range of new evidence and research in order to develop a deeper understanding of how, and under what conditions, forceful sustainable growth is possible. Cents and Sustainability is required reading, both as a source of inspiring world class success stories and as a rallying cry for all those engaged upon the challenges of sustainability and growth.' James Bevan, Charity Times

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