Friday, June 26, 2009

ERE conference papers on the web

The presentations from the ERE conference held in Cape Town 20-21 May have been uploaded on SANBI's website.  

Investing in ecosystems

Economists have long assisted with valuing the world's natural assets and ecosystems. To create functional markets to exchange this value is the next step. I agreed to talk on this in the local context of the fynbos biome....

“After all those cosy years of working together,  show me the money”: 

From economic valuation to real-world investment in the fynbos biome

Key words: economic valuation, ecosystems, fynbos, decision making, institutional processes and arrangements

The last decade has seen several studies demonstrating the economic value of ecosystems and the fynbos biome is no exception.  Despite notable criticism on some of these studies, on average they have succeeded in raising the awareness on the value of well-functioning ecosystems.  In some instances this has led to conservation and restoration success on the ground, but what is needed is an institutional system that will translate abstract economic values into real financial investments in ecosystems. With continued increased pressure on the world’s biodiversity on the one hand and shifting agendas towards climate change and a rather reductionist and in practice partial ecosystems goods and services (EGS) analysis on the other, economists and ecologists need to build on their successes and find new meaning in their work on total systems value, as opposed to a focus on total economic value (TEV) or an EGS analysis only.  Economists and ecologists would also do well by soliciting the services of those who can assist in the development of new institutional processes and arrangements that can capture the real financial benefits of well-functioning ecosystems beyond the usual short-term and consumptive benefits.  Based on a analysis of current bottlenecks to realise real-world investments in specifically fynbos ecosystems, an action-orientated agenda focussed on performing economic valuation studies to better serve the needs of decision makers, an increased understanding of and leverage of total systems value, and a renewed focus on the institutional process and arrangements to capture fynbos ecosystem values, is proposed.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another view on green jobs

With the emergence of a Global Green New Deal, the question whether government investments and stimulus packages in greenery will pay off is very prominent (see also earlier post on a damning report by the Institute of Energy Research in the US on green jobs for example). 

A study by the Pew Centre emphasised that jobs in the clean energy economy were growing faster then overall jobs, as  reported in an article on SocialFunds.Com:

Despite a lack of sustained government support between 1998 and 2007, the number of jobs in the emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than the overall job market during that time. According to a report by the Pew Center on the States, jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a rate of 9.1% during that time, compared to a rate of 3.7% in traditional jobs.

and, what is more intriguing is that 

...job growth in the clean energy economy occurred without significant government engagement. However, recent developments such as funds for clean energy provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) show promise for rapid growth in the field. The stimulus bill provides $85 billion in spending for energy and transportation, and includes $21 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy, as well as more than $30 billion for spending on a variety of clean energy programs. 

The net costs of these jobs over time remains an important question (see also here for an experience with renewable energy in Spain).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Electricity generation and scale

Yesterday we pointed out that South Africa's share of electricity generation when compared to China has declined rapidly. Today a graph telling something about scale; for the years 2002-2007 China's growth in electricity generation was more then the total amount of electricity generated in South Africa. The scale at which electricity is generated in China dwarfs the relative minor contributions from smaller developing nations such as South Africa.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

South Africa's declining share of electricity generation and responsibility for climate change

Based on numbers produced in the recently released BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2009 we did an analysis on South Africa's relative share of electricity generation. South Africa generates around 1.3-1.4% of the world's electricity and this number has been relatively stable from 1990 up to 2008. However, when expressed as a percentage of electricity generated in the BRIC countries and in China a different picture emerges.  In 1990 South Africa produced almost 27% of the amount of electricity that China generated, but this has declined rapidly to only 8% in 2008. In comparison to the BRIC countries this declining share is less dramatic, from 7.5% in 1990 to 4.8% in 2008.

Although not a direct proxy for greenhouse gas emissions over time, these numbers provide some important insights in South Africa's relative responsibility to mitigate against the emissions of greenhouse gases when compared to other developing countries.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Training Manual: Economic Instruments for Environmental and Natural Resource Management

From the UNEP’s Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI) and the Economics and Trade Branch (ETB) of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) - a jam-packed training manual on the use of economic instruments for environmental and natural resource management.

The Training Manual builds on a report on ‘The Use of Economic Instruments in Environmental Policy: Opportunities and Challenges’ published by UNEP in 2004 and on a range of standard literature on environmental economics. The 2004 report was prepared under the auspices of the UNEP Working Group on Economic Instruments consisting of twenty-five developed and developing country experts from research institutions, relevant international and non-governmental organization and governments.