Monthly Journal Overview (“MoJO”) #5 June 2012

Welcome to the latest “Monthly Journal Overview,” a collection of articles we think might be of interest to activists, academics and everyone in between.  No tokin’ efforts though – in “the carbon footprint of indoor Cannabis production” (Energy Policy Volume 46, July 2012, Pages 58–67) Evan Mills “estimates the energy consumption for this practice in the United States at 1% of national electricity use, or $6 billion each year. One average kilogram of final product is associated with 4600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, or that of 3 million average U.S. cars when aggregated across all national production.”

For more about this, and other topics (such as the dilemmas of being “green” at the Centre for Alternative Technology) read on…

Antipode Vol 44, 3

Emissions Trading, New Enclosures and Eco-Social Contestation

Patrick Bond
The central operating strategy within the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and most of the advanced capitalist world’s environmental policy is to address climate change through the market mechanism known as emissions trading. Based upon government issuance and private trading of emissions reductions credits and offsets, this approach quickly rose to $135 billion in annual trading. But in the wake of the collapse of climate negotiations in Copenhagen and a world financial crisis which undermined market faith in derivative investments, carbon trading has an uncertain future. Linkages between deep-rooted financial market and emissions market problems are revealing in spatio-temporal terms, especially in the context of a deeper overaccumulation crisis and investors’ desperate need for new speculative outlets. It is in the nexus of the spatial and temporal aspects of carbon financing amidst resistance to “new enclosures” by adversely affected peoples, that broader-based lessons for global/local environmental politics and climate policy can be learned.

Capitalism Nature Socialism Volume 23, Issue 2, 2012
Two Cheers for Environmental Keynesianism
Bill Blackwater

Ecology and Society 17(2): 11.
Transforming innovation for sustainability.

Leach, M., J. Rockström, P. Raskin, I. Scoones, A. C. Stirling, A. Smith, J. Thompson, E. Millstone, A. Ely, E. Arond, C. Folke, and P. Olsson. 2012
The urgency of charting pathways to sustainability that keep human societies within a “safe operating space” has now been clarified. Crises in climate, food, biodiversity, and energy are already playing out across local and global scales and are set to increase as we approach critical thresholds. Drawing together recent work from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the Tellus Institute, and the STEPS Centre, this commentary article argues that ambitious Sustainable Development Goals are now required along with major transformation, not only in policies and technologies, but in modes of innovation themselves, to meet them. As examples of dryland agriculture in East Africa and rural energy in Latin America illustrate, such “transformative innovation” needs to give far greater recognition and power to grassroots innovation actors and processes, involving them within an inclusive, multi-scale innovation politics. The three dimensions of direction, diversity, and distribution along with new forms of “sustainability brokering” can help guide the kinds of analysis and decision making now needed to safeguard our planet for current and future generations.

Climate change, adaptation, and formal education: the role of schooling for increasing societies’ adaptive capacities in El Salvador and Brazil.
Wamsler, C., E. Brink, and O. Rantala. 2012.
With a worldwide increase in disasters, the effects of climate change are already being felt, and it is the urban poor in developing countries who are most at risk. There is an urgent need to better understand the factors that determine people’s capacity to cope with and adapt to adverse climate conditions. This paper examines the influence of formal education in determining the adaptive capacity of the residents of two low-income settlements: Los Manantiales in San Salvador (El Salvador) and Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), where climate-related disasters are recurrent. In both case study areas, it was found that the average levels of education were lower for households living at high risk, as opposed to residents of lower risk areas. In this context, the influence of people’s level of education was identified to be twofold due to (a) its direct effect on aspects that reduce risk, and (b) its mitigating effect on aspects that increase risk. The results further suggest that education plays a more determinant role for women than for men in relation to their capacity to adapt. In light of these results, the limited effectiveness of institutional support identified by this study might also relate to the fact that the role of formal education has so far not been sufficiently explored. Promoting (improved access to and quality of) formal education as a way to increase people’s adaptive capacity is further supported with respect to the negative effects of disasters on people’s level of education, which in turn reduce their adaptive capacity, resulting in a vicious circle of increasing risk.

Energy Policy Volume 46, July 2012, Pages 25–35

An investigation into recent proposals for a revised definition of zero carbon homes in the UK

Robert S. McLeod, Christina J. Hopfe, Yacine Rezgui
A rapid transition to ‘zero carbon’ building was announced by the UK Government in December 2006 as a key step forward in reducing the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from the domestic and non-domestic sectors. This paper elaborates on whether the revised definition of ‘zero carbon’ dwellings in the UK (2009) and the approach to implementing this policy, advocated by the Zero Carbon Hub (ZCH), is coherent with overarching climate change and energy policies. Further, the paper examines the barriers to adopting higher minimum standards of fabric energy efficiency, in particular the German Passivhaus standard. By comparing methodological differences and outcomes associated with these different energy performance standards, an estimate of the real world energy and carbon savings has been determined. The paper concludes that adopting a more robust ‘fabric first’ approach, would achieve better coherence with UK climate change and energy policies, whilst mitigating the risks associated with carbon offsetting mechanisms.

Energy Policy Volume 46, July 2012, Pages 58–67

The carbon footprint of indoor Cannabis production

Evan Mills

The emergent industry of indoor Cannabis production – legal in some jurisdictions and illicit in others – utilizes highly energy intensive processes to control environmental conditions during cultivation. This article estimates the energy consumption for this practice in the United States at 1% of national electricity use, or $6 billion each year. One average kilogram of final product is associated with 4600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, or that of 3 million average U.S. cars when aggregated across all national production. The practice of indoor cultivation is driven by criminalization, pursuit of security, pest and disease management, and the desire for greater process control and yields. Energy analysts and policymakers have not previously addressed this use of energy. The unchecked growth of electricity demand in this sector confounds energy forecasts and obscures savings from energy efficiency programs and policies. While criminalization has contributed to the substantial energy intensity, legalization would not change the situation materially without ancillary efforts to manage energy use, provide consumer information via labeling, and other measures. Were product prices to fall as a result of legalization, indoor production using current practices could rapidly become non-viable.

Global Environmental Change Volume 22, Issue 2

Special Issue Introduction: Adding insult to injury: Climate change and the inequities of climate intervention
Elizabeth Marino, Jesse Ribot

Climate change will injure vulnerable communities. In response, coordinated global action has emerged to mitigate climate change, to gauge and map climate-related risks, and to plan for adaptation, which in turn has opened new avenues of funding, power, knowledge and opportunity. The identification of climate risks, analysis and diffusion of ‘impact’ scenarios, incorporation of carbon into economic regimes, and interventions to enhance adaptive capacity will necessarily be experienced differently by different groups. As climate-related crises produce winners and losers, so may discourses and plans made to avert such crises. In the process both the bio-physical events and the social responses shape and reshape social stratification and the distribution of risk. They produce new inequalities and needs for new kinds of responses to guard against injustice. From the emergence of desalination water projects and contested water access, to relocation planning in the Arctic and the South Pacific due to sea-level rise, to increasingly centralized forest management; mitigation and adaptation responses and interventions create their own critical outcomes. This essay and the articles in this special issue examine some new opportunities and risks associated with climate-change discourses and interventions. This special issue shows that vulnerable communities may be at risk of material injury following climate change or climate change intervention; and, be further insulted and injured by lack of representation and recognition, and by misrecognition as simplified, stereotyped victims in local, national and international climate conversations. Using a mixture of theoretical insight and case study research, this collection of articles explores the injuries of climate change as it applies to both direct physical stress scenarios and exposure to adaptation and mitigation policies and planning, as well as the discursive insults of being discounted, stereotyped, or ignored.

Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability Volume 17, Issue 4, 2012

Fostering community energy and equal opportunities between communities

Jung Jin Park

This paper aims to shed new light on a much neglected area of equity issues embedded in the use of environmental goods and their links with an equally under-researched issue of the practical capacity of communities. The main focus of the paper is on the equitable distribution of opportunities for using renewable, low-carbon resources to become sustainable energy producers, especially, among communities which are aware of the benefits of sustainable energy generation. Drawing on a document review of governmental support programmes and findings from a survey of community energy projects in the UK, this study: (a) identifies necessary practical capacities and (b) examines the ways in which practical capacities are assessed in the distribution of opportunities. The study suggests that there is general lack of policy attention to equity issues in facilitating community energy. The paper discusses three potential reasons for such lack of attention: (a) an assumption about the ubiquitous existence of certain practical capacities; (b) a priority given to established communities/organisations as a policy delivery agency; and (c) an emphasis placed on technology diffusion. It identifies future challenges in improving the equitable distribution of opportunities for wider communities to engage in sustainable energy generation.

Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability Volume 17, Issue 4, 2012

Transition towns and world cities: towards green networks of cities

Peter J Taylor

The Transition Initiative is a highly successful movement promoting localisation of economic processes. The basic question that this essay considers is how to relate this movement’s favoured units of practice, transition towns with populations of around 5000, to the contemporary world of large cities, so-called world cities, global cities and mega-cities. My means to achieve this end is to interrogate the concept of “local” to make it more strategically amenable to analysing multiple-scale living, and concomitantly, to recognise and understand the importance of non-local spheres of behaviour. The latter is derived from Jane Jacobs work on the city in which the balance between local production and imported (non-local) production is crucial. Her import replacement argument is used to show compatibility between economic change and sustainability. This leads to the concept of green networks of cities which I begin to explore.

Progress in Human Geography June 2012, 36 (3)

Socio-technical regimes and sustainability transitions Insights from political ecology

Mary Lawhon James T. Murphy

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a core focus of geography, linking subfields such as urban, economic, and political ecology, yet strategies for achieving this goal remain illusive. Socio-technical transition theorists have made important contributions to our knowledge of the challenges and possibilities for achieving more sustainable societies, but this body of work generally lacks consideration of the influences of geography and power relations as forces shaping sustainability initiatives in practice. This paper assesses the significance for geographers interested in understanding the space, time, and scalar characteristics of sustainable development of one major strand of socio-technical transition theory, the multi-level perspective on socio-technical regime transitions. We describe the socio-technical transition approach, identify four major limitations facing it, show how insights from geographers – particularly political ecologists – can help address these challenges, and briefly examine a case study (GMO and food production) showing how a refined transition framework can improve our understanding of the social, political, and spatial dynamics that shape the prospects for more just and environmentally sustainable forms of development.

Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers Volume 37, Issue 2, pages 212–225, April 2012

Managing trade-offs in ‘ecotopia’: becoming green at the Centre for Alternative Technology

Jon Anderson

The individual has been cast as both the source of and solution to many contemporary environmental problems. Although some individuals may display concern for the environment, actions are undertaken within a societal context that is often ambivalent to environmental issues. To ‘become green’, therefore, individuals have to negotiate a range of trade-offs between their environmental aspirations and the realities of life in a developed, consumer-based society. This paper draws on extensive field work at one site at which individuals have explicitly sought to manage these trade-offs – the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales, UK. It argues that two distinct strategies are adopted to manage the tensions involved in becoming green: a ‘strategy of segregation’– where professional practices are separated from personal actions to establish balance, if not consistency, in everyday life

And, if you still have room…

Now online at:

ephemera: theory & politics in organization

volume 12, number 1/2

The atmosphere business
Issue editors: Steffen Böhm, Anna-Maria Murtola and Sverre Spoelstra

The contributions collected in this special issue of ephemera question the underlying ideologies and assumptions of carbon markets, and bring to light many of the contradictions and antagonisms that are currently at the heart of ‘climate capitalism’. They offer a critical assessment of the political economy of carbon trading, and a detailed understanding of how these newly created markets are designed, how they (don’t) work, the various actors that are involved, and how these actors function together to create and contest the ‘atmosphere business’. In 5 notes, 6 articles, 1 interview and 3 book reviews, some of the most prominent critical voices in debates about the atmosphere business are brought together in this special issue.

The atmosphere business
Steffen Böhm, Anna-Maria Murtola and Sverre Spoelstra

Privatising the atmosphere: A solution or dangerous con?
Mike Childs

Carbon markets after Durban
Oscar Reyes

A dark art: Field notes on carbon capture and storage policy
negotiations at COP17
Gökçe Günel

Durban’s conference of polluters, market failure and critic failure
Patrick Bond

The people’s climate summit in Cochabamba: A tragedy in three acts
Tadzio Mueller

Critiquing carbon markets: A conversation
Larry Lohmann and Steffen Böhm

Capitalizing on chaos: Climate change and disaster capitalism
Robert Fletcher

The prey of uncertainty: Climate change as opportunity
Jerome Whitington

Carbon classified? Unpacking heterogeneous relations inscribed  into corporate carbon emissions
Ingmar Lippert

A colonial mechanism to enclose lands: A critical review of two  REDD+-focused special issues
Joanna Cabello and Tamra Gilbertson

Mapping REDD in the Asia-Pacific: Governance, marketisation  and contention
Rebecca Pearse

Planting trees through the Clean Development Mechanism:  A critical assessment
Esteve Corbera and Charlotte Friedli

The ‘third way’ for climate action
Siddhartha Dabhi

Carbon trading in South Africa: Plus ça change?
Peter Newell

Can capitalism survive climate change?
David L. Levy

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Monthly Magazine/newsletter about all things climate and resilience in Greater Manchester.
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