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Sustainable Growth - News Update

Graham Watson

12th February 2021

Here is a raft of topical stories in the news relating to the economics of sustainable growth.

Shell: Europe's biggest oil firm sets out carbon neutral plans

Shell has set out its plans for the future, emphasising a desire to be carbon neutral by 2050: this will involved massively enhancing the provision of charging points and doubling renewable electricity sales by 2030. That said, it intends to spend around $2-3bn per annum on the low carbon parts of the business and up to $8bn on its existing oil and gas assets.

We're on a collision course with the planet. But with public support, that can change

Larry Elliott uses the publication of the Partha Dasgupta economic review of biodiversity to argue here for intelligent intervention to protect the plant - mirroring interventions to tackle the pandemic - and preserve biodiversity.

Whilst, I'm instinctively against interventionism, the article flags up a number of interesting points about the continued usefulness of GDP, the conflict between short- and long-term objectives and ties this in with Mariana Mazzucato's new book "Mission Economy", which argues that any such intervention requires voter support.

And it's the latter which is crucial: if you can make an economic case for something, that's all well and good but can you make that case a persuasive one that elicits voter buy-in? If you can, then you stand a chance.

Can flying go green? | The Economist

This Economist clip looks at whether or not the aviation industry is going to be capable of becoming a sustainable industry: it's a fascinating clip looking at the challenges facing the sector, and the variety of solutions - hydroelectric aircraft and biofuels.

Bear in mind that, there are concerns that if current trends continue, the sector could account for nearly 25% of global carbon emissions.

​Can flying go green? | The Economist

Shift to green energy 'could cost oil states $13 trillion' by 2040

The think-tank Carbon Tracker estimates that a move to green energy could be costly for oil states, and cost them $13 trillion in cumulative revenues by 2040. Worse still, it could cost them up to 40% in government revenue.

This is something that you might argue they should have thought about when extracting oil in the first place. It is a finite resource, and the fact that many of them have squander revenues, or failed to tax them properly is something that, ultimately, they will have to be held responsible for.

Of course, the downside is that those people who are going to be most affected are going to be the poor and vulnerable in these states - and they are utterly blameless in this regard - who may experience increased poverty as a result of inadequate social safety nets.

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Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to Tutor2U, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

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