Planetary Problems, Human Welfare/Well-being

Degrowth, well-being, social capital and income change

Income reductions, personality and well-being: Which personality types are the most psychologically resilient to the experience of income reductions?

ID:0430
Authors
: Christopher Boyce, Alex Wood, Eamonn Ferguson

Abstract: What happens to an individual’s well-being when their income reduces? Recent psychological evidence shows that income reductions have a much greater association with well-being changes than equivalent gains. Here we use the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey from 2005 to 2012, which contains Big Five personality measures in 2005 for more than 10,000 individuals, to examine whether the influence of income reductions and gains on life satisfaction differ by personality. Those high on conscientiousness and low on openness show stronger reactions to losses, whereas those low on conscientiousness and high on openness experience minimal reactions to losses. The commonly observed small but robust relationship between income and life satisfaction may be accounted for by a sub-group of people experiencing rare but strongly impactful losses. Our work has important implications for discussions surrounding degrowth and will be presented in the special session entitled “degrowth, well-being, social capital and income change”.

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The Good Life or the Better Life? Values, Norms and the Sustainable Consumption Transition. Institutional Orientations as Prerequisites for Sustainable Societies

ID:0367
Authors:
Joachim H. Spangenberg, Sylvia Lorek

Abstract: For a transition towards sustainability, both production and consumption have to change. In the current public and the political debate, and in economics as well, ‘green growth’ and the ‘green economy’ dominate the discourse on the production side, which fits neatly with the claim for ‘a better life’ on the consumption side. A ‘good life’, questioning not only consumption patterns but also the prevailing levels of consumption, is associated with the minority discourse on ‘degrowth’. A good life based on substantially sustainable consumption cannot neglect human needs, but needs to identify better satisfiers for them. Three challenges stand out: (i) enhancing the satisfaction efficiency of consumer goods, (ii) identifying true satisfiers, and (iii) changing preferences towards less but better consumption. Different approaches in economics offer elements for a consumption theory up to the challenges, but have not yet been synthesised. Some steps for doing so are suggested.

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Degrowth, happiness and income change

ID:0984
Authors
: Filka Sekulova

Abstract: The present article draws upon the relation between well-being and income changes in the context of the economic crisis of Spain in 2011, as compared to the economic situation in a South East European country (Bulgaria) in the same period. Findings may be relevant for some of the suppositions made in the framework of degrowth. The effect of an income increase on happiness fades out over time in the Bulgarian sample, implying that happiness may be unattainable with constant augmentation of earnings. The ambiguous relation between income reduction and subjective well-being found in the Spanish sample suggests that income and consumption decrease may not necessarily reduce (individual or societal) happiness. This will especially be the case if accompanied by simultaneous life-style changes that lower formal working hours and improve some of the social capital parameters of the particular community, such as sharing.

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From incremental to radical transformation: reconciling energy systems with 2°C carbon budgets

A safe operating space for development?

ID:0550
Authors
: Will Lamb, Narasimha Rao

Abstract: Human development achievement and global climate change policy are intimately linked though the provision of basic goods and services. Given prevailing technologies, such provisions will require an expansion of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this paper, we attempt to quantify a fair ‘operating space’ for development – a body of energy consumption and GHG emissions that may be necessary for developing regions to spend in order to preserve their future access to basic goods and services. We assess ‘development as usual’ (“DAU”) projections using an elasticity approach for four regions: Africa, India & South Asia, China & Centrally Planned Asia, and Latin America. The respective sizes of each operating space are significant in comparison to the global carbon budget, have varying dynamics over the following four decades, and are highly consequential for the equitable allocation of global emissions rights.

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Failures of Green Growth as a Means for Addressing Climate Change

ID:0748
Authors:
Clive Spash

Abstract: This paper offers a critical appraisal of recent moves to promote Green Growth as the answer to human induced climate change. In the build-up to the Conference of the Parties to be held in Paris, December 2015, a substantive lobbying exercise has been undertaken to present what is claimed to be a scientific, independent and objective case for massive financial investment to secure future energy requirements while preventing loss due to toxic fossil fuel assets. The paper analyses the case using the 2014 “Better Growth Better Climate” report. The paper covers the framing of the debate, getting the prices right, energy and material throughput, growth versus human health and the environment, the ethics of a growth society, and the conflicts between corporate interests, government and civil society. One conclusion is that planning is back on the agenda, but this raises serious questions of governance that are not being addressed.

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The innovation impact of the policy mix for renewable power generation: a survey analysis of German technology providers

ID:0615
Authors
: Karoline Rogge, Joachim Schleich

Abstract:The decarbonization of energy systems constitutes one of this century’s key challenges for human society. In such a transition so-called policy mixes play a crucial role in redirecting and accelerating technological change towards low-carbon solutions. Yet precisely how policy mixes affect technological innovation remains poorly understood. In this paper we present new insights into the link between policy mix and innovation based on a company survey among German manufacturers of renewable power generation technologies which was conducted between April and July 2014. Based on a bivariate Tobit model we confirm the positive innovation effect of demand pull and technology push instruments. In addition, we find that perception of companies regarding the consistency of the instrument mix and the credibility of the overarching policy mix are positively associated with the level of their future innovation expenditures. Based on these findings we derive policy recommendations and point to future research needs.

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Beyond the Zeitgeist: energy and climate policy assuming the laws of physics trump the rules of economics

ID:0636
Authors:
Kevin Anderson, Alice Bows-Larkin

Abstract: Set against the hubris of the political and economic hegemony and palpable failure of the market Zeitgeist to oversee anything other than an exponential rise in emissions, this paper will begin to frame an alternative vision. Not one of abstract optimisation, hidden algorithms and black box models, but rather one based on IPCC carbon budgets, transparent arithmetic, iteration and humility in the face of many uncertainties. Such an agenda not only opens up a new framing of climate change but also asks questions as to the appropriateness of the reductionist and disciplinary institutions of academia for resolving systemic and globalised issues.

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Target setting in a resource-constrained world

Targets for sustainable land use: rationale, reflections and research needs

ID:0374
Authors
: Meghan O’brien, Stefan Bringezu

Abstract: Targets help to set a clear orientation, provide guidance and prioritize actions toward achieving objectives. This presentation will take a closer look at the state of research on global land use targets for cropland and forestry. It examines the role and rationale for land use targets, identifies research needs and reflects on how such targets could contribute to a green transformation. It argues that balance is the key concept behind global land use targets, with the aim being to connect what may be sustainably produced on the supply side with how much may be consumed under those conditions on the demand side. A target of 0.2 hectares per person for cropland and 0.45 m3 timber per person for forest in the year 2030 are presented, and the implications of meeting such targets for the EU are discussed, considering both current and expected EU cropland and forest land footprints.

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Future resource use – where are we heading? Global material use scenarios in the context of resource efficiency programs and targets

ID:0482
Authors:
Anke Schaffartzik, Nina Eisenmenger, Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Willi Haas, Fridolin Krausmann, Andreas Mayer, Dominik Wiedenhofer

Abstract: Despite our knowledge of ‘planetary boundaries’, the palpable impacts of climate change, and national and international commitments to environmental protection and resource efficiency, global material use is currently increasing at unprecedented rates. Out of the 57 Gigatonnes (Gt) by which annual material use grew between 1950 and 1960, 23 Gt were added in the last decade alone. Since 2000, global material use has risen even at a faster pace than GDP: material efficiency is decreasing. Based on global material flow data spanning 6 decades from 1950 to 2010 and 6 country groupings and world regions, we investigate the dynamics which characterized past growth in global material use. We show that even if those countries with defined resource efficiency targets (continue to) meet their goals, this would not translate into a feasible long-term scenario if it is not accompanied by a fundamental transformation of global resource use.

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Target setting in a resource constrained world

ID:0592
Authors
: Ariadna Rodrigo

Abstract: The European Union’s debate on overall resource use gained momentum with the publication of the “Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe” in 2011. However, resource use policy is still far from being the centre of the political debate. When discussing how sustainable resource use should be fostered through policies, until now decision makers tended to focus on one resource category only, usually greenhouse gasses. By introducing policies which focus on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, often unintended negative effects in other resource categories are induced, such as in the case of the EU’s biofuels policy which resulted in increased land use change and related land and water demand. The paper discusses existing approaches in European policy aiming at managing Europe’s resource use and indicates how responsible use of land, water, greenhouse gasses and materials can be integrated into policy making.

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Towards global water use targets

ID:0128
Authors:
F. Stephan Lutter, Stefan Giljum

Abstract: This paper focuses on the development of targets for global water use. Although a renewable resource, the availability of water is limited throughout the year due to variations in water demand and climatic conditions. As a consequence, in many regions – at least temporarily – the amounts of available water resources are exceeded by water withdrawal. This leads to a reduced water flow in rivers, lowering groundwater levels as well as polluted water bodies. When discussing targets for water use different aspects have to be born in mind, which are of high relevance and specific for the resource water. These aspects cover, among others, the different types of water (blue, green, and grey), the different types of water flows (abstraction vs. consumption), and others. The paper discusses existing approaches for water use targets and indicates ways towards the elaboration of targets from the watershed to the global level.

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Resource use, health and human well-being

Human Scale Development – transitions in the case of energy cooperatives.

ID:0954
Authors
: salina centgraf, Felix Rauschmayer

Abstract: Energy cooperatives (EC) are an important player for the transition processes of current energy systems towards sustainability and decentralization in Germany. Currently, more than 900 EC exist n Germany. The democratic organisation of EC, related to the source of their financial assets, makes them a special actor for creating public acceptance for system transitions. Being a member of EC or even a user of its services may alter one’s quality of life. Following the Human Scale Development Approach (HSDA) of Manfred Max-Neef (Max-Neef 1991), the paper carves out the motivations for pro-social behaviour of members of EC and reflects on the feasibility of the HSDA as a tool to support local initiatives and pioneers on a transition path in industrialized countries. The paper describes particularities of German EC and the HSDA which is applied in 6 German EC. Finally, it discusses the advantages and limitations of this approach.

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How sustainable is the Brazilian agri-food system: assessment from a novel indicator framework

ID:0844
Authors:
William Goulart da Silva, Julia Steinberger, John Barrett, Gerd Sparovek

Abstract: The production of food has to be 70% higher in order to feed the future global population in 2050. The challenge to simultaneously increase food production and reduce negative social and environmental impacts of agricultural production is significant. An indicator framework is created to assess sustainability and evaluate the Brazilian agri-food system’s compliance with the international targets for sustainable development in two relevant international agreements: the Millennium Development Goals and Aichi targets. The indicators suggest that the Brazilian agri-food system is unsustainable, not achieving effectively the Millennium Development Goals and Aichi targets. Better performance is observed in indicators related to the access of food, like hunger eradication. Improvements are required for environmental over-extraction and degradation, GHG emissions, use of fertilizers/pesticides and social inequality. Scientists and practitioners have to work together to address gaps, produce and integrate new knowledge with the objectives of policy instruments and social movements to promote sustainability.

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‘Foodprints’ for sustainability and health: an Australian case study

ID:0471
Authors
: Michalis Hadjikakou, Thomas Wiedmann

Abstract: Similarly to other Western countries, current food consumption patterns in Australia have been linked to high rates of diet-related diseases and have a high environmental footprint. Although national dietary guidelines do offer some general guidance towards healthy and sustainable eating, there is inadequate consideration of access and affordability constraints faced by different socioeconomic groups. The aim of this study is to better quantify diet-related environmental, health and economic impacts of diverse socioeconomic groups living in different parts of the country. Using highly disaggregated environmentally extended input-output tables and census-based expenditure data, we compare the representative shopping baskets for 13 distinct socioeconomic groups against official guidelines and also evaluate their associated supply chain carbon emissions, water use, land use, value added and employment contribution. We finally develop bespoke recommendations which cater to the particularities (such as access to food, food prices and available choices, income and education) of each socioeconomic group.

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A typology of resource use adaptation among rice-farming households in Asia.

ID:0646
Authors:
Clemens Grunbuhel

Abstract: The paper explores the possibility of creating a meta-typology for rice-farming households in Asia based on case studies in four countries for which separate household typologies had been developed. The analysis applies the livelisystems approach and impredicative loop analysis in order to scale up local-level household information for higher-level design of adaptation options and policy interventions. Results visualise the transformation of resources as farming households adapt to changing environments. It shows that farmers require either specific interventions attuned to their resource base or strong policy support as they entirely shift their livelihood strategies. The method of analysis applied shows that abstract typologies developed from empirical data can serve as powerful tools at the science-policy interface.

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Exploring a global a-growth pathway from the energy perspective

ID:0469
Authors:
Iñigo Capellan Perez, Margarita Mediavilla, Carlos De Castro, Oscar Carpintero, Luis Javier Miguel

Abstract:

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HAPPINESS AND FOOTPRINTS – Assessing the Relationship between Individual Well-being and the Environmental and Social Footprints of Consumption

ID:0712
Authors: 
Peter Daniels, Chris Ambrey

Abstract: This paper investigates the nature of the empirical link between people’s well-being and their environmental and social footprint. Although per capita economic growth is no longer a strong predictor of ecological stress (from individual to national levels), a more detailed investigation of favourable well-being outcomes for people with relatively low footprints should help suggest a range of insights and potential options and strategies for win-win transitions to more sustainable futures. This research builds on existing and extensive work examining the link between “happiness” and environmental conditions and pressures but is unique in terms of its detail and disaggregation in measuring and relating individual well-being (using the Australian HILDA well-being index), and an extensive range of social and environmental impact measures. The environmental and social impact or footprint measures utilise new multi-regional input-output tables capable of accounting for fully supply chain and embodied demands of people’s consumption and broader lifestyle choices.

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The Environmental Impact of Human Needs

ID:0311
Authors:
Konstantin Stadler, Ricardo Gibran Vita Garza, Richard Wood, Edgar Hertwich

Abstract: Currently, we face the pressing challenge of transforming our socio-economic system into one that satisfies human needs in an environmental sustainable way. Surprisingly, so far environmental accounting concentrates on the environmental burden of products and lacks the connection to the actual needs satisfied through consumption. Here we present a novel attempt to close that gap. We connect the human needs framework by Max-Neef with the consumption-based accounting of Environmental Extended Multi-Regional Input Output analysis. This allows us to calculate the environmental footprints of human needs. We find the highest resource use associated with the fulfilment of the human needs of identity, freedom, leisure and subsistence. Another aspect of the analysis reveal that countries vary considerable in their resource efficiency of human needs fulfilment. The presented framework enables the assessment of the eco-efficiency of need fulfilment across nations and provides a unique data source for human centred policy development.

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What are the resources required to fulfil human needs? Analysis of past trends and future research agenda

ID:0808
Authors:
Julia Steinberger

Abstract: All human societies require environmental resources, in the form of energy, materials and land, to survive and flourish. However, the exact level of resource requirements may be difficult to estimate, since it can depend on many factors: local biophysical conditions, such as climate or available crops for food; technological options and efficiencies for delivering key services; but also socio-economic parameters, including consumption levels and inequality in distribution. This talk will present recent advances in the international study of resource and energy requirements for human needs. An agenda for analysing the resource requirements to fulfil universal basic human needs will then be presented. This agenda must take into account socio-economic as well as technological choices, since the decoupling required to fulfil human needs within planetary boundaries most likely requires a fundamental re-organisation and re-orientation of many socio-economic activities.

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Beyond GDP: increasing the policy value of alternative measures of economic welfare

Barriers and Opportunities for Alternative Measures of Economic Welfare

ID:0110
Authors
: Brent Bleys, Alistair Whitby

Abstract: This paper explores a number of barriers that alternative measures of economic welfare face by interviewing (potential) users of these measures in both Belgium and Germany. The barriers are grouped into 3 categories: context factors, indicator factors and user factors. Context factors are embedded in the policy context and agendas that shape the environment in which an indicator percolates, indicator factors depend on specific characteristics of the indicators, while user factors relate to the level of experience and expertise of the users of indicators and the institutional culture and uses in which the user operates. Drawing on the different barriers that were reported, 4 opportunities are identified in order to increase the policy value of the alternative measures of economic welfare: harmonizing and updating the methodological framework, extending macroeconomic models to include a wider range of welfare-related items, improving the communication on the measures and promoting indicator and researcher entrepreneurship.

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Exploring conceptual and methodological improvements to the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW)

ID:0574
Authors:
Pedro Beça, Rui Santos

Abstract: The ISEW is one of the indicators that have assumed a relevant role in the discussion of alternatives to the GDP. The development of a harmonized theoretical framework for the computation of the ISEW is a fundamental aspect to improve its recognition and acceptance by policy and decision makers, statistical offices, as well as international institutions. A new theoretical framework for the ISEW is proposed, which is intended to overcome some of its main shortcomings. The changes introduced will also allow for a direct comparison of the results of the ISEW with those of the GDP, which are advantages over previous studies. Empirical applications are developed for two countries, which are consistent in demonstrating the advantages of using the proposed theoretical framework for the ISEW, which can provide a clearer picture of the trends of a country’s welfare levels as well as the success of policies implemented.

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The National and Regional Welfare Index: Methodology, Results and Political Impacts in Germany

ID:0336
Authors
: Diefenbacher Hans, Dorothee Rodenhaeuser

Abstract: The contribution deals with the question of how alternative welfare measures can be brought further into the focus of political decision making and to the public at large. The National Welfare Index (NWI) has been developed to improve sustainability and welfare accounting. In addition to calculations for the national level in Germany (from 1991 up to the year 2012), regional indices (RWIs) have been calculated for six German Länder until now, answering a demand by political actors from green parties as well as from ministries. We will present the methodology, difficulties and compare the results of these calculations. On this basis, we will discuss the question whether there is a tangible political impact of welfare measurement. Furthermore, we will conclude on the question whether the way forward to improve the political impact of alternative welfare measurement lies in further sophisticated improvements of calculation methods or in a quest for simplicity.

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The value of participation in advocating for alternative measures of economic welfare

ID:0513
Authors:
Katherine Trebeck

Abstract: When do alternative measures of economic welfare gain traction amongst policy makers? This paper explores a case study of apparent success – Oxfam’s Humankind Index in Scotland. It draws on evidence from a recent evaluation of this small initiative to reflect on the factors which led to the HKI becoming an influential policy product in the Scottish Parliament and amongst wider civil society. The process of the HKI’s construction was concertedly participatory, with particular effort made to include the views of people who are ‘seldom heard’. This is an important reason for its traction – the public consultation which informed its creation seemed to be compelling to policy makers. This lesson has implications for other efforts to go ‘beyond GDP’ – relying on experts or even stakeholders to determine the composition of alternative measures risks undermining their attractiveness to policy-makers who want to be seen to be listening to constituents.

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Energy and economic growth. An empirical Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS) evaluation in developed and developing countries

ID:0305
Authors:
Panos Kalimeris, Kostas Bithas, Georgia Mavrommati

Abstract: The link between energy and economic growth is re-evaluated for approximating the actual biophysical properties and the relevant constraints of the production process, within the context of the Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS) approach. The present article questions the prevalent Energy Intensity (EI) analysis, based on the Energy/Growth (E/GDP) prototype, and proposes Energy/Utility index as an alternative framework for evaluating the link between energy and production. We compare the prevalent (Energy/Growth) with the proposed (Energy/Utility) Energy Intensity prototype, through estimates of the Energy Intensity of USA; Japan; Germany; and UK, as four representative high developed countries, and China; India; Brazil; and Mexico, as four representative highly developing countries. Based on a broad range of estimates, we argue that energy is the indispensable engine of economic growth, once the EI estimates are evaluated as an integral part of CHANS approach.

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Public Views on the Growth Debate: Results from a Questionnaire-Based Survey

ID:0243
Authors:
Stefan Drews, Jeroen van den Bergh

Abstract: There is a long-standing and recently revived academic and public debate about economic growth and its relation to environmental quality and well-being. Given that public opinion influences public policy, it makes sense to examine how people think about these relationships. Prior research on public opinion has studied this issue, but in a rather simple and incomplete way. Here we present the results of an in-depth study of public opinion on a wide range of aspects related to economic growth. We conducted a web survey resulting in a large random sample (n=1008) of Spanish citizens. The results show that many people seem to have a continued desire for growth but are simultaneously doubtful about the possibility to achieve this due to several limits. We identify segments of the population with distinct views about growth and control our results for various individual characteristics such as personal values.

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Reassessing the HDI ranking by sensitivity analysis.

ID:0781
Authors:
tommaso luzzati

Abstract: The present paper illustrates a non-reductionist approach to composite indicators aimed at communicating the uncertainty that unavoidably arises from aggregation. To this purpose this approach is applied to the Human Development Indicator.

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Why Low Economic Growth is Quite Likely and Would Not be the End of Economic Prosperity

ID:0878
Authors:
Friedrich Hinterberger

Abstract: The European POLFREE project (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/polfree) will present several scenarios for a resource-efficient future with much less resource use on global and European scales. At least one of these scenarios will probably turn out to exhibit very low, maybe zero or even negative rates of economic growth (relative change in GDP). The paper will summarize arguments that may seem obvious to many ecological economists. Such a development is often seen as the end of economic prosperity, especially because it increases unemployment, reduces the ability of governments to fulfill requirements such as paying pensions and does not allow people to pay for what they want and need to increase their well-being. But it is the experience of the author that these arguments are still widely debated and therefore deserve a proper presentation and discussion within the scientific community. ESEE 2015 seems a perfect place to do so.

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