“It is a call for a fundamental reorientation of how societies work and govern themselves.” That’s what one blogger Jeff Kelly Lowenstein has said about IIED’s new book Virtuous Circles: Values, systems and sustainability by Andy Jones, Michel Pimbert and Janice Jiggins. Launched two weeks ago, we asked you to tell us what you thought. Thanks to those of you who have blogged already – and if you haven’t, it’s not too late.
We need to talk about ketchup. We all love the red stuff. But we really need to talk about it. Analysis of the steps involved in processing ketchup – from farming the tomatoes through to packaging – to transporting and retailing that symbol of American mass consumerism reveals an alarming fact. To produce it requires a mind-boggling 150 separate processes, across several continents, according to research cited in a new book by the International Institute for Environment and Development.
A new IIED briefing paper asks some hard questions about biomass investments and warns that rising demand for renewable energy sources could drive land grabs.
All sorts of sustainable energy initiatives across the world are providing solutions to local energy problems. But how can these be scaled up to reach billions of people and really tackle the big issues of climate change and energy access for all?
This was the question on everyone’s lips at the Ashden Awards conference last week. And there was a lot to learn from the five international finalists. In a series of films, presentations and discussions each finalist shared their experience of creating new technologies, innovative business models and inspirational marketing initiatives to find solutions that benefit the environment and improve livelihoods. And, despite working against a backdrop of financial limitations and unsupportive policy environments, they are all managing to scale up at a fantastic rate.
A year ago today, the oil industry was shaken by a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig, 1500 metres deep in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion killed 11 people and spilled 200 million gallons of oil. BP’s bill – over US$8 billion to date – is expected to reach US$32 billion after all damage claims have been made.
BP wasn’t solely responsible for the spill. BP’s contractors were also held to task, including Transocean, the rig owner; Halliburton, who did the cement job; and Cameron International, who built the blowout preventer. The incident highlighted the complexity – and vulnerability – of today’s oil and gas contracting arrangements.
IIED’s new report Shared value, shared responsibility: a new approach to managing oil and gas contracting chains argues that a shift in industry culture is required to manage the challenges posed by complex chains of oil and gas contractors in increasingly risk-laden environments.
Energy shortages and rising fuel costs are nothing new to the poor in developing countries where 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.4 billion use biomass as their primary cooking and heating fuels. What is new, is the idea that renewable biomass energy itself could enable developing countries to fight poverty and climate change, create jobs and gain energy independence.
In the run up to Nigeria’s April elections the political lobbying, with the usual round of underhand payments for support, has Nigerians hoping for a fairer competition in the grab for power. The political process is being increasingly scrutinised by the average citizen — with record numbers of people registering to vote and self-formed citizens groups promising to monitor polling stations. Another type of power — electricity, or ‘light’ as most Nigerians call it — and the lack of it is one of the hot potato election issues on everyone’s lips.
Developing countries might want to prepare for a future where powerful governments compete for access to dwindling fossil-fuel supplies by taking a realistic look at what's already available.
Everyone agrees that developed countries need to undertake a radical transformation if they are to assume their responsibilities for mitigating climate change. But what consequences would this have for the global South? Will climate change mitigation in the North undermine economic development in developing countries, or provide them with new opportunities?
It was clear at the recent Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of the Mother Earth in Cochabamba that Latin America´s leftist leaders are taking strong positions on issues of environmental sustainability and respect for indigenous people. But is that rhetoric actually borne out by their domestic policies?