Brief notes and (and links to) a few studies providing evidence in favour of some of our suggestions, and one looking at the case for a Financial Transactions Tax.
- Another nail in the coffin of the growth obsession, at least for those whose ears are open to the suggestion? – this working paper by Yongfu Huang (University of Cambridge) presents evidence that economic and financial volatility is detrimental to global sustainability. Certainly at the very least it implies to me that there are likely to be spin-off sustainability benefits from policies aimed at moderating the excesses and social impacts of ‘pure’ market movements.
- If that last sentence seems implausible to you, perhaps this paper by Ramon Lopez, Gregmar Galinato, and Asif Islam (Maryland and Washington State Universities) will be persuasive? It looks at evidence on the relationship between fiscal spending and the environment, and finds that reallocation of government spending towards public goods (e.g. education, health, research and development, ‘social insurance’ programs) – and away from private goods (e.g. commodity or industry specific subsidies) consistently reduces pollution.
- A Financial Transactions Tax is one policy often suggested to moderate finanical instability. This paper by Stephan Schulmeister (Austrian Institute of Economic Research/WIFO) attempts to determine if such a tax would be feasible and effective for this purpose (It also provides a handy summary of the pro and con arguments). The evidence certainly seems to support the idea that such a tax would be effective in moderating financial instability (without destroying the liqudity of transactions neeeded for ‘real world’ price finding ) if implemented globally. Schulmeister also suggests it could be effective if implemented only in the main centres of international financial transactions, on the basis that the vast majority of trading is conducted in these nations, though this argument seemed incomplete (there are important reasons why trading is, in practice, so concentrated when intuitively it could happen anywhere there are the requisite computuers, offices and telecommunications, but the relative weight of mobility versus immobility needs assesment).
- Finally, another paper, by Ina Meyer (WIFO) and Jürgen Scheffran (University of Hamburg) looks at passenger car use and climate change, and concludes that ‘tremendous’ efficiency improvements are needed to achieve sustainabilty targets, and that even with such improvements “lifestyle and behavioural changes in overall mobility patterns are imperative to mitigate emissions from the car sector.” In other words, there’s no technological silver bullet – we can’t rely on ecological modernism.