What’s “Scope 4”, and… Why all the tiers??

The problem that Scope 4 corrects:    

Today our measures of business environmental impacts address the size and efficiency of business technology use, traceable from local business records.   We’re not even trying to measure what’s traceable from what a business pays for throughout the whole economy.   So in effect, the global impact is counted within a narrow local boundary, making the measures scientifically undefined, and highly misleading.  Why it matters is that business, investor and policy decision makers then don’t know what impacts their decisions really have, and the research says most of any business’s real impacts are global.   So we need to understand why the world economy seems to work so smoothly.

World GDP, Energy & Efficiency
The world economy grows as a whole, as if all parts worked smoothly together, and has for 150 years it seems, hard to imagine but competition seems to assure it, at least for energy use.

 What’s counter intuitive for solving it is that the world economy not only LOOKS like a whole system, it also WORKS as a whole system.  What you know is 1) all parts of the economy are supposed to be and 2) seem to act as if 3) they are competitively efficient.   Otherwise 4) they lose their access to energy use, and the energy goes to someone else.   Smooth working competition like that is 5) needed for a world system to work as smoothly as global data shows, and 6) making there no better assumption than that differences from global average efficiency are temporary.    So unless someone can say why not, I think we have to treat energy use as being predictably proportional to GDP.   That’s been peer reviewed as a general principle, that one can rely on the range of local or international variations being likely to be relatively small (maybe +/- 10%) for any globally connected part.   

so…. there’s  a LARGE miss-match

between the effects we see and the ones our money really causes

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Introduction –

the scientific basis for the SEA-LCA “SCOPE 4” accounting principle,

That: Every dollar spent can be shown likely to pay for such widely distributed services throughout the world economy, that at least as a first assumption, it also pays for an equal share per dollar of the whole world’s economic activity and impacts.
In principle, shares of GDP seem to carry equal shares of responsibility for what the economy does to produce GDP

Continue reading What’s “Scope 4”, and… Why all the tiers??

How full is a “Glass Half Hidden”?

The worst part of “A Glass Half Hidden” is the clear chance of discovering “An Iceberg of Risks” missing from the view.

Scope 1, 2, & 3 only count the impacts of the primary technology chains that businesses rely on to operate, and ignore the usually much larger impacts of the many chains of business services consumed too.   That’s the iceberg of hidden responsibilities of business cause, being ignored due to using an unscientific method of measurement, i.e. counting only the impacts you see, and not accounting for the one unseen (what Scope 4 finally does).    So there’s also a hidden iceberg of bigger than expected changes in plan to take care of too… that we’ve been unaware of needing for having a sustainable economy.    It explains why our efforts so far still result in the economy degrading of the earth ever faster as we delay making meaningful change.   The job doesn’t change, just how directly we’re able to address it.

What’s really hidden is that it’s our money that is directly paying for all the economy’s impacts, making us financially responsible.  Now we also really need to know the total bill.   Having a habit of not looking at what our money was used to pay for, we’ve been lulled asleep by the way money launders all the information on what our money pays for to deliver what the economy provides.

(see also What’s Scope 4, and… Why all the tiers?? for examples and full analysis)

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It is indeed a little ‘strange’ that a very basic scientific principle of measurement, that every scientist knows quite well already, would be overlooked in defining the world’s units of measure for saving the planet.

Scientific ways to measure things, need to measure the whole thing.  

Sustainability metrics very largely don’t so that, lacking a scientific way to determine the scale of hidden impacts, the method for measuring economic impacts defaulted to the ancient practice of just counting what you have direct information on.    The reality is that the great majority of business impacts actually don’t c come from what is most visible, but from widely distributed uses of the economy that businesses have no records of, paid for by employing all sorts of business services.   The problem is that whether you know about them or not, the risk exposure to serious emerging economic liabilities…  is exactly the same.

Here’s a new graphic to help picture the problem.  It helps to shift from thinking about counting the energy “uses” a business and its suppliers operate with (i.e. traceable for Scope 1,2 or 3, and so on the visible side of the “glass half hidden”), to thinking about the energy uses its revenues are “paying for“, but often don’t have records of (Scope 4, on the hidden side).  It’s the total of energy uses paid for that make a business both financially responsible and directly exposed to the emerging economic risks of physically causing economic liabilities and the harms done.   It’s a serious major overlooked sustainability business risk.    If 80% of the CO2 produced by uses of business revenue actually come from its services, and not its technology,

…it’s all the same to the investor exposed to the risks for the business as a whole.

For risk exposure it’s essential to measure the total impacts on the earth a business is financially responsible for, as that’s where the risk comes from.    Just choosing not to count all the ones your revenue goes to pay for moves the risks to the hidden side of the “glass half-hidden”… but still leaves you just as exposed to the very substantial economic risks of business devaluation many see ahead. Continue reading How full is a “Glass Half Hidden”?

No need to take off our clothes in public… but dropping our ideological fig leaves at times seems required.

I had found a cozy place to work on sustainability from inside the UN, but discovered the words holding the discussion together there had accumulated meanings that were deeply dishonest…   so I’m back on the outside.

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Over the past year I developed two rather wonderful scientific learning methods, as if school courses in “Niche Making 101, 102”, for people searching for how to work with nature.   One is the 3Step method for learning how your economic commons works and the other the World SDG for making the totality of our growing impacts on the earth transparent to each other.   Both were very unexpectedly attacked rather than discussed in the organization I was part of, though, and I’m understanding the offense.

After much suffering, puzzlement and close observation, the harsh reaction to learning by a scientific approach now seems due to it not being sufficiently ideological.    Unfortunately… letting up on the ideologies we may use to stamp the world with is the very first rule for learning from nature.    Finding that people both didn’t seem to know that, or to be willing to try, is an important lesson I wasn’t prepared to learn, especially that my own social network would respond as if attacked by my suggesting good creative ways to do it .

Ideology is an artificial and inflexible but handy social substitute for reality.  By definition ideologies are self-defined, built up as social affirmations in well connected networks.  It makes them strong but also largely unable to adapt and respond.     For people they provide mental comfort, useful knowledge of group habits, and a private coded language only understood in the network.

How  ideologies can open up and become adaptive we often fail to notice, though, how often we naturally change from one to another in the course of a day or week as we engage with different networks.    We change ideologies much as if putting  on and taking  off clothes, often using a change of clothing to do it in fact.    So,… it seems sensitive, but need not offend, to notice that ideologies need to be suited to situations and to grow and change with them, letting us try on different ones for fit.   Ideologies can be temporarily considered as “nice outfits to wear”, and need not be treated as contracts required of others for whom they don’t fit.

Sadly, the dishonest words this viewpoint helps us understand are some of the favorites in the discussion of sustainability.    They’re ways of mixing honorific images of ever accumulating wealth and reducing our footprints on the earth: “sustainable growth”, “decoupling”, “circular economy”, even “sustainable development”.  They’re frequently used to compare “apples and oranges” and coming up with “ever increasing consumption without consumption”.    With that usage our goal and purpose becomes to accelerate the “tragedy of the commons”, that is our whole discussion is about how to avoid.

How you can tell that for yourself is by observing that putting the contradictory meanings of “development” together requires switching back and forth from one ideology to the other, with that switch not being mentioned.     It shows that people, in conversation, are adopting an ideology of hiding when they switch ideologies.    Sadly that seems what we have socialized around doing, unaware of the consequence.    At present nearly anywhere in the global sustainability movement you go (and I’ve really looked around!), you get strong pushback for even trying to bring it up.

Natural emergence and home making
The natural succession of growth and adaptation for sustainable systems, a complex organizational development of internal and external relationships.

Nature doesn’t respond to artful ideology in the least, though.   Not one little bit.    What nature responds to is the growth of new organisms that change from expanding their conquests to then making their niches.   That succession is their (and our) door to joining the commons by making their (and our) homes in it.   Feel good euphemisms for the opposite, stitching together our true ideals into fig leaves for endless conquest philosophies like BAU, actually don’t work.

No need to take off our clothes in public… but dropping ideological fig leaves at times
seems required for how we learn.

Jessie

A World SDG – global accounting of responsibilities for economic impacts

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Offering a true measure of economic sustainability,
internalizing the costs of externalities caused by delivering world GDP,
initially using shares of GDP to measure shares of GDP impact responsibility;
potentially making the world economy 100% accountable.

It’s the “right way to make money”,
taking responsibility for the true shares of our costs to the future.

 

Investing and doing business in the common interest, 

…calls for balancing costs and benefits, no longer just counting operational impacts locally as before, adding up only the impacts over which we have direct control (and can’t hide).   Now we need to do impact accounting inclusively, combining in one account both direct operational impacts and direct economic demand impacts estimated as our global shares of the GDP impacts we pay for.   That’s the essential step to inclusive accounting, and balancing our benefits from GDP with our real shares of responsibility for the whole economy’s accumulating GDP impacts.  It’s needed to guide our choices for moving toward a sustainable future.

To apply it we need to recognize that the supply-chain and service-chain impacts are a *shared responsibility* of the those managing the operations the result from, and the economic demand caused by paying for them.  Now the World SDG offers a scientific method for measuring the responsibility of economic demand.  Businesses and investors need to make sound sustainable decisions about supply chains reaching around the world, and need accurate information on what is being paid for and profited from to do that.  Consumers, shareholders and regulators can then also make sound decisions about what the markets are profiting from.  For the glaring cases, regulators could variably tax the profits from dangerous impacts, funds to be transferred to subsidizing the profits for scaling up alternatives, making the investor and buyer jointly responsible with the seller for the important side-effects of their economic services.   In principle both buyer and seller are co-equally responsible, liable for long term costs of short term profits, and for being transparent.  This way of doing the accounting would help pave a clear path ahead for the economy of the future.  06/26/17, 11/5/18

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Updated Preamble to the 2014 UN Proposal

Following these notes is the original text of the World SDG proposal, to the UN Ministerial “Open Working Group 7” and the UN NGO Major Group and its Commons Cluster, for negotiating the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).  It offers a “whole system accounting” method to give all stakeholders the same transparent information on measurable Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) impacts of the economy, to help guide economic choices for our future.  What makes it work is a new scientific method for much more accurately distributing real responsibility of economic decision makers for their decisions.   That new science, for how the world economy works as a whole, is what allows all stakeholders to see their own and each other’s real scale of impacts on the whole caused by their economic decisions.  It becomes a learning tool for then guiding our choices for the benefit of the whole, creating a holistic awareness of what’s at stake for consumers, business, investors and governance, and guide efforts for achieving the SDG’s.

Latest 2016 research statements, The links below are to recent UN Statements regarding how our standard ways of measuring sustainability are very selective, and leave the great majority of economic impacts on our future uncounted[1,].  My recent video comment to the UN [2,] on this grand accounting problem is in the webcast of its high level political policy forum for sustainable development (HLPF), its July 11 Session 4: Fostering equitable growth and sustainability . Watching the hour of statements from many experts, countries and organizations will show you how the UN works, and avoids discussion of our ever expanding impacts.   My statement is at minute 0:40:40, and others by Youth, Women & Indigenous Major Groups are at minute 1:09:00 to 1:21:00, and quite excellent too.

Our modern environmental accounting standards were based on ancient habits of not counting things we can now measure the effects of. The is largely limiting the information given decision makers to LOCAL impacts, and leaving uncounted their real shares of the GLOBAL impacts. These categorical omissions from what is counted assure that businesses, investors, government and consumers  will make sustainability decisions quite unaware of most of the impacts their decisions will cause.  What is excluded also tends to be the more neglected and disruptive of our accumulating economic impacts on the earth and society, and so excluding consideration of them in making the decisions that cause them. So sustainability decisions to maximize profits can also be maximizing neglected impacts too!!!

  1. Details of what SD metrics don’t count ImpactsUncountedl.pdf
  2. Video of UN HLPF comment on Growth & Impacts Uncounted 11 Jul 16

Why a World SDG?  

We’ve never had a meaningful balance sheet for the earth, but new science and technology now makes it possible.  Our accounting methods started from doing local accounting of impacts, and so didn’t take a whole system view, and that’s still the case.   So leaving them out of consideration means it’s only slowing the whole economy that slows its increasing whole effects that are continuing to destroy the earth.

I)  The standard way ‘sustainability’ is now measured uses “selective accounting” rules, for addressing ESG impacts, for people, businesses, cities or countries or policies.  It’s to count things almost entirely only for what each one directly manages.   That counts what each planning group would immediately care about, but it ignores the often much larger remote effects of their commerce on others and the planet, a very deceptive one sided view.   For businesses energy use, for example, what is counted is only the energy within its operations, for its equipment and the material uses it manages, or directly traced to them.   Even though doing that takes a great deal of effort, it arrives at a total that is highly inaccurate and misleading, due to the more dispersed categories of impacts uncounted.

II)  The most general exclusion is of all impacts of financial choices, all treated as ‘zero’, though also very clearly resulting in what is paid for and profited from, by consuming all the services of the economy remotely.   The largest part of that exclusion is the financial choice made by businesses to pay their own people, and so economically causing the consumption. Business use of public and private services, and paying investors are also excluded.  Also excluded are all those categories of paid services impact for business supply chains.  So given that we are now relying on environmental accounts for saving the earth, it’s evident that no one before had been checking what decision makers would be told they were making decisions about.

III)   To make real decisions on sustainability decision makers would need to accept co-equal responsibility for their choices to request, pay for and profit from their share of impacts for delivering their share of GDP.  Because our responsibility for what we see happening around the world is not traceable you need to count it statistically, and the new research makes that relatively easy.  It gives co-equal responsibly for directing the work of a business supply chain with the operations of the supply chain.

The original research (3, 4) found the whole supply chain energy consumption and CO2 pollution of 5 times what the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or GreenHouse Gas (GHG) “Scope 1&2” metrics would count, using a wind farm business with heavy technology as model.  For less for businesses using less heavy technology, the true impact might be 10 times what is counted, with the more disruptive remote impacts going completely uncounted.  The old rules were inherited from practices for simplifying accounting and ignoring things that were hard to count.  It reflect the oldest of old habits of thinking, of economies working with separate parts, when since Adam Smith everyone has known they work as a whole.

IV)  The World SDG proposes a data network giving access to a transparent inclusive accounting of measurable ESG impacts, a data platform.   The starting point is a scientific method of dividing up shares of known impacts of the whole economy, for which any part would be responsibility.  The baseline for estimating a share of economic responsibility is the decision maker’s share of the economy, initially counting every share as “average”, and then differentiating if more information is available.   So as an impact calculator, any person, business, or country would enter their “income” and first see a display of the known global impacts for that share of world GDP.  It would be for helping them choose how to invest their time and money, and guide policy.  As research develops, ways to depart from average and take credit for lessening or compensating for impacts would develop.

The principle strategy for the World SDG is to improve the decision making regarding investments, thinking of “investment” more holistically, as both “cultural development” and trying “new directions for the economy”.   For operating businesses its ESG balance sheet report would be published along side its annual financial balance sheet report. All stakeholders could view the same “best available information” on all impact factors.   When a new investment proposals want public recognition and perhaps qualify for support, they’d go through public reviews.  First would for general scientific and economic feasibility, then financial, and then for cultural acceptance and political commitment.   From initial to final reviews it would proceed as a “learning practice” going from early concept to final implementation stages.  More successful proposals might be seen as “transformational” and become a teamwork of all the stakeholders, not just the initiators.

Our main sustainability impact metrics (2)

  • LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) accounts for the impacts of recorded uses of technology and materials by individuals and businesses
    • but not the impacts of OTHER spending and economic choices
  • EF (ecological footprint) measures our traceable use and flows natural and renewable resources
    • also not the impacts of OTHER spending and economic choices

The World SDG method combining the omitted economic impacts with scientific measures  (3)

  • EI (economic impact) measures accumulative responsibility of participants in the economy for shares of global ESG impacts of GDP, assumed to be proportional to shares of GDP until improved information is available.
    • Share of GDP is a reliable measure of our use of the economy, on the currently reliable assumption that the measured economy works as a whole, based on the highly regular relationship seen in the first figure below, of a constant ratio of constant whole system growth rates for GDP, Energy & Energy Efficiency.
      Also see the Addendum – Background on the Science and references (4, 5a,b)

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Preface

Why a World SDG is both possible and needed is because our world economy works as a whole.  We need a truly global way of understanding the impacts of our decisions, to crate a “Knowledge Commons for Sustainability”.  We recognize that every part contributes to the whole and no part can operate without the whole.  The surprising result of the research is how reliably any share of GDP is likely to be “average” and pay for about the same share of world GDP impacts (4).   1) It first comes from how widely distributed consumption spending is, then 2) how widely money from any expense is distributed in the global economy, to all income levels within all kinds of businesses, as it is passed down a supply chain(5a,b).   It then also relies 3) on how truly global and competitive economic markets and services are, with all parts being disciplined by the same competitive standards for profiting from the resources everyone has access to.   So the baseline assumption that shares of GDP pay for the same average share of GDP impacts is both necessary as a default choice and likely to be accurate.  Making decisions on how individuals and the world can depart from average would then become the focus.  

Everyone could then understand their own benefits from the economy and how they compare with the global impacts of delivering them, seeing the simple facts in a broad context.  For example, a 6 oz (180 cc) glass of wine for $10  seems like a small impact.  As an average share of GDP what we find is $10 is quite likely to have an “average climate impact” of .45kgCO2/$ = 4.5kg for $10 = ~10lb x 16oz = 160 ozCO2 [2006 data] (4).  So the weight of CO2 consumed would be ~27 times the weight of wine.   The catch is that spending $10 on anything else would be the same.  How we use any part of our incomes would be close to having an average share of CO2 AND other global impacts of the economy as a whole, soil loss, deforestation, environmental and cultural disruptions etc.  [for 2016 data due to inflation and efficiencies impacts per $ are ~66%]

So the World SDG accounting model lets you: 

  • Compare our shares of World GDP benefits with our shares of  its measurable Ecological Societal and Governance (ESG) impacts.  
  • Using “shares of the whole” as a common unit of measure for responsibility for the whole
      • by aggregating reliable measures of human impacts and risks to our future, including direct financial liability if there are good estimates

     

    • using the sound initial baseline assumption of “average responsibility per share” pending more complete accounting.

It would provide an accurate accounting for the modern world’s survival on earth.
[ed 8/23/16] 

… a scientifically combined balance sheet for financial and ESG factors,
so people can better understand our economic choices.  

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A World SDG

A World SDG  is a “commons approach”

    • Full accountability for the rising economic costs of an unsustainable future

 

    • Finance motivated to invest in the SDG’s close to our hearts.

 

  • An integrated balance sheet of local and global responsibilities for integrated implementing of SDG’s.

New science makes it possible to give those who profit from growing our costly economic impacts the information they’d need to understand their growing global liability. What would be more profitable choices for all can then reverse that. It’s shocking, really, when one finds what a $1 dollar share of GDP (where the averages apply) is responsible for, as a $1 share of today’s economy’s fast growing impacts.   Every average $1 of GDP is responsible for close to 1lb of CO2 put in the atmosphere!  So in a sentence you just replace “dollar” with “pounds of CO2” to speak about the climate impact of normal earning and spending.   For a consumer with a $50k income, the climate impact is 50k pounds of CO2 per year!

World GDP, Energy & Efficiency
Parallel growth rates for world GDP, Energy, CO2 and Efficiency => make average shares of GDP responsible for the same share of those parallel impacts.

Continue reading A World SDG – global accounting of responsibilities for economic impacts

A World SDG: A Sustainable Earth Footprint, and way to thoughtfully manage global systems

This journal entry if for the preliminary presentation of The World SDG to the UN’s Open Working Group on the SDG’s.  See also the final World SDG proposal on the global application of the general principle, that we all are responsible for our shares of the abuses of the economy as a whole in proportion to our owning, investing in and using it

The World SDG uses a method of calculation for any person’s or business’s share of world GDP, for estimating their total share of  responsibility for world economic impacts as “users” called “Scope-4 Accounting“.  The legal view of responsibility is different from “cause and effect” in that, legally, both the people paying for, benefiting from or authorizing a tort harm may all be held as equally responsible as the person actually doing the harm, as familiar for hiring others to commit a crime. 

Below is the version circulated in 08 to 10 Jan, Statement of Jessie Henshaw, Working with IPS & NGO Commons Cluster at the UN OWG sessions.  

Updated short PDF  hand-out statement World SDG

Full version  World SDG-UNPost2015Agenda
for NGO Major Group report& as a 2/3/14 blog post here

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Statement to UN “Open Working Group” (OWG) sessions, on: “Sustainable Consumption and Production” &”Disaster Risk Reduction”, for the NGO Major Group: Commons Cluster

A “World SDG”
guiding decision maker choices for the Sustainable Development Goals

 

We have always needed an SDG for reducing our global footprint by a method that thoughtfully manages the global systems, many of which behave so independently as to have “minds of their own”.   We now have two good scientific methods of measuring our local responsibilities for global footprints, in broad spectrum.  That information will FAR more rationally steer the decision making of global markets, and give regulators and consumers a FAR better understanding of what their decisions mean, than the scanty and mostly quite subjective information on how our world works we now have.   So defining the SDG for reducing our global footprints in general, as a way to let every part know how to steer their part of the whole …  becomes possible.

  • LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) accounts for the impacts of recorded uses of technology and materials by individuals and businesses
    • but not the impacts of any our OTHER spending and economic choices
  • EF (ecological footprint) measures our traceable exchange of natural and renewable resources
    • also not the impacts of our OTHER economic choices
  • EI (economic impact) fills that gap, measuring our global shares of measurable or socially prioritized economic ESG impacts, assumed to be proportional to shares of GDP until improved information is available.   So… shares of GDP as a good measure of our benefits from the economy, are used as a measure of our share of responsibility for the whole economy’s impacts.  [and the science shows that “average” is a quite reliable first estimate for the real impact of shares of GDP]  [clarification of descriptions 5/27/15]

It allows us to “internalize all externalities” and define the SDG simply, to slow or reverse all accumulating economic impacts, with their goal being to approach their own limits, safely, within all recognized cultural, economic and planetary boundaries.

Doesn’t disaster risk reduction need to include Assessment of
Disaster Risk Costs??

and informing people profiting from the causes
who could be held responsible?

There are now better scientific ways using EF and EI to accurately measure global and local disaster costs and now there are better ways to assign responsibility for them, means of accurately and honestly associate responsibility for them with the people creating the market demand for and taking profits from the economic causes. There are societal costs attributable to industrial farming, both for pollution and resource depletion that harms our present and future economic wellbeing. There is also the responsibility that can be proportioned to industrial farming for the societal costs of displacing  rural communities with more competitive farming methods, and triggering unplanned migrations to cities of people who lose their livelihoods and are unprepared to thrive where they are going, as well. In the case of climate change, climate hazard costs can be included with other costs, and assessed proportionately to the production of GHG’s, and the responsibility for them being equitably distributed to the people creating the market demands for and taking profits from the economic products and services producing them.   As a systemic approach it is part of what is called “The Ideal Model: “New Architecture” for Economic Self-regulation”. It is widely recognized that humanity is still far from living sustainable on our planet home. Even the Secretary-General’s Rio+20 Gap Report recognized that humanity has already exceeded a number of planetary boundaries and is living well beyond the carrying capacity of the earth. We are polluting the natural environment and rapidly depleting our natural resource base. Clearly we need a well-defined SDG to reduce our global footprint.

A shift from building things to caring for what we built, as natural systems do it…!

LCA examples 

EF examples and implementation see:

EI examples and implementation as a goal, see:

Jessie Henshaw

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Cities: Caring for the Greater Commons

“Sustainable Cities” is the topic to being the upcoming Open Working Group 7 on SDG’s, Jan 6-10 2014, in the UN’s marathon effort to decide “what we should do with the earth”.   Our cities, as brilliant as places of creativity as they are, find themselves “in a fishy stream…”  See also the final World SDG proposal on the global application of the general principle, that we all are responsible for our shares of the abuses of the economy as a whole in proportion to our owning, investing in and using it

The World SDG uses a method of calculation for any person’s or business’s share of world GDP, for estimating their total share of  responsibility for world economic impacts as “users” called “Scope-4 Accounting“.  The legal view of responsibility is different from “cause and effect” in that, legally, both the people paying for, benefiting from or authorizing a tort harm may all be held as equally responsible as the person actually doing the harm, as familiar for hiring others to commit a crime. 

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Fishing in a fishy stream…

 “Sustainable Cities” started with Caring for our Cities as Commons
Neglecting The upstream burden of their wealth and the World as Their Greater Commons

Statement:

A scientifically better way to measure the true scale of economic footprints is as fractions of the whole.  It’s easy and accurate for scale, treating fractions of world GDP as shares of world resource use and impacts too(1).  Cities thrive as hubs of creativity and growing concentrations of wealth, cells within a greater whole. Without self-restraint, growing parts can become cancers on the whole, profiting by conquering others, not by caring for their world.  A city’s limit is then exhausting their world, as done by ancient Rome, the Mayans and others.

New York City with ~1/10th of one percent of the world’s population has a $1,350 billion/yr GDP, ~2% share of world GDP, so causing ~2% of world economic resource demands and impacts, with its plan for real repeated doubling of all three. Wealth earned on New York’s 13 sq mi uses the products of ~380,000 mi2 of farm land around the world, ~2% of the world’s, with resource pressure causing ~2% of the world’s 1,460 mi2 of deforestation. Its services produce~2% of the world’s CO2, ~141,750 million lbs/yr, ~170,000 lbs. per NYC resident.

The question is, what would make New York and other cities turn from consuming to caring for the world they generate their wealth from(2)?   Now each World Capital, as islands of high GDP, is growing its impacts on the world by growing amounts each year, as if as innocently as living by a lazy stream grabbing floating bags of money going by now and then..                Jessie Henshaw

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Jessie is an environmental and human systems scientist quite familiar with defining units of measure. She’s been doing advanced research on emergent organization in nature and economic systems for over 30 years. The scientific basis for this measurement method is a peer reviewed research paper

1)“Getting the incentives right requires redefining the units of measure”.

2) “Ideal Model: Steering money to what matters

 

New dialogs needed – on “steering in heavy seas”

I write lots of very carefully crafted letters to people deeply engaged in the UN’s work on

Steering the Earth Toward Sustainability

…, its Open Working Group is drafting Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).   Each letter is crafted to convey to leading thinkers some piece of my sophisticated natural systems view, of how to recognize the organized working parts of our economic environment and how they are changing.   To steer the ship to calmer seas we need new kinds of responses to calm the waters, as our “stimulus” has been producing new hazards everywhere we look.   Attempting  to force the economies to grow while pressing ever harder on the planetary boundaries, has been driving it into ever more desperate quandaries of what to do instead.  

Here are two letters from this week.    I’d really like to know if you understand, or if you have any questions about the subjects raised, or how I arrive at my conclusions or choose how to present them.   It could help me do this work a lot.    JLH

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Going where everything seems to be a trap..

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Tweet’s this AM:

J.L. Henshaw ‏@shoudaknownWhy not #finance #sustainability, for more stable markets and greater total #returns, giving up only our #ignorance?https://synapse9.com/signals/2013/12/08/ideal-model-new-architecture-capitalism-witha-puropse/ …

@umairh You’d learn from what I found, building new science using the same lead. Sustainability is more profitable. https://synapse9.com/signals/2013/12/08/ideal-model-new-architecture-capitalism-witha-puropse/ …

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Good Letters for comment,… on relieving our world’s economic panic:

  • to a World Bank expert on development,
  • to a group of NGO’s studying how to measure the SDG Targets and Indicators

Continue reading New dialogs needed – on “steering in heavy seas”

Getting the incentives right requires redefining the units of measure

This is a post for the UN’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals “Informal meeting on measuring progress” on the new science needed for achieving the SDG’s, “getting the incentives right” as many observers have noted as essential.   In part, it requires “New Units of Measure”   because there is “Something Very Wrong with our way of measuring impacts”

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The Need to redefine our Units for Measure and how to begin

Getting the incentives right:

To be effective in getting the results we want, we need to get the incentives right, a matter of understanding both how people make decisions and how the economic system works and would respond.   That involves knowing how to measure what decision makers want to know about.  For investment decisions, for changing how we use the earth one thing they’d want to know is their possible future liabilities for making the wrong decisions. That illusive goal is now much  closer to being solved, with this major improvement in the measure of the impacts of businesses.  The traditional way to measure impacts was to count up what you could trace, and this study showed that what we can trace is most often only a small part, basically because what was being left out was the impacts on the environment caused by the resource demands resulting from the revenue businesses generate as their main purpose, having to date only been counting the impacts of intended operations.   This discusses a comprehensive approach to quantifying them.    JLH

Statement to OWG 6:

Prepared statement For 9:00 AM Major Group Meeting of 12/12/13 on Means of implementation (science and technology, knowledge-sharing and capacity building)  —  “The mismatch between measured impacts and responsibilities”.    Also delivered from the floor at OWG-6.1 the Informal Meeting on Measuring Progress” on Tuesday 12/17/13

Statement: Because sustainability metrics for businesses are just for the impacts of business operating technology, the environmental impacts of the people who operate the business, their employees and those of all the kinds of service providers businesses use to operate, don’t get counted.   Businesses and economists, thinking of money systems not environmental ones, may not see a reason to treat businesses as physical systems and count all their impacts, but you know for sure nature does.   So it’s very common for businesses and consumers to actually be directly responsible for much larger scale environmental impacts than they are told.    Of course the reason we’re measuring impact is for steering a redesign of our economy for the future of the earth, and it would actually be better to get it right.   Using metrics very often in error by 80% or more is really unacceptable as it voids the purpose of measurement in general, but you talk to people and they don’t want to change, sometimes mentioning the inconvenience.    Don’t you think we’d do better to think of the “inconvenience” to the investors who have been trusting us, who we are presently giving false guidance to for what to invest in? Continue reading Getting the incentives right requires redefining the units of measure

Ideal Model: New Architecture for Economic Self-Governance

Prepared for UN Open Working Group on SDG’s, OWG-5, 6 in Dec 2013 Owg 7,8 in Jan & Feb 2014, solving the special “steering problems” raised there as well with: 

 This is a serious effort to describe in natural language a well thought out way for a market economy to follow organic systems principles, and decouple from conquering the earth to reorient its development toward finding its secure place on earth.   It would be driven by our goal seeking social and economic communities developing new markets and partnerships for mutual benefit as markets always serve to steer the economy, but having much better information on what’s profitable, and recognizing the true cost of inaction.   As we find how to do it the economy would also  change from building itself up internally to making itself at home externally.  

By redirecting our resources from pressing ever harder on the limits of the earth, and instead aim for relieving the strain on ourselves and the earth, the economy would become relatively more profitable than before as it heals.   A great many of the key goals of sustainability (SDG’s) being stated again and again at the UN, would be achieved naturally this way.    Other critical goals would still take concerted planning and government action, but would become more practical to accomplish.

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Incentives to Sustainably Lower Our Global Footprint 

  • Holistic and accurate measures of  ESG costs of production and consumption
  • An Information System Everyone can understand, for a Self-managing World 
  • Turning the economic pursuit from “conquest” to “homemaking”
  • “Nature’s Capitalism”, first profiting from building things, then by caring for them

Steering Capitalism with a purpose: giving us a good home on Earth

A.            The idea

The natural way economies determine their futures is by “market choices”, as financial, business and consumer markets look for how to get what they want from each other and the earth. Then governments, the press, professions and open societies watch out for the common interest.   That’s what designs of the economy of our future, telling developers what new parts to add or old ones replace.

Those market choices often don’t reflect common interests just for our natural lack of information.  What was done around the world to deliver goods or services is not collected and passed along as they are paid for,   What’s becoming possible is like that, ways to identify future societal costs that business may be held responsible for in the future, practices like adding to global inequities or harming our economic future.

Comparing comprehensive sustainability balance sheets, for finding development proposals with financially and culturally acceptable risks and benefits. Global benefits/People centered, Homemaking

Just one new fact about money can release a great wealth of information on that.  It’s that the “hidden consequences” of using money we don’t immediately see have been scientifically shown to most often be close to “average”[1].  In information terms, that serves to “internalize all externalities”, opening the door to what has eluded us, a way to make sound decisions for the world as a whole.

It would let us build an information system making the choices responsible for impacts transparent for all to see.  For example, spending one dollar generally adds about 1 pound of CO2 to the atmosphere.  We might select the least cost engineering option for ending our addition of CO2 to the atmosphere as a standard measure, possibly bio-char, estimated to cost $.20 per pound of CO2.  That would be equal to an impressive “tax” on GDP, of $.20/$1, an indicator of how poorly the earth’s profits are being used.

People would then clearly see, for example, that as we build more and more for the future economy to take care of, a natural turning point approaches for investors and everyone else, of diminishing total returns.  So as growth becomes seen as a drain on future profits, the most profitable use of profits becomes caring for the environments creating the profits, not compounding our demands on them.


[1]Henshaw, J. 2011 Systems Energy Assessment. Sustainability MDPI. http://synapse9.com/SEA – People are “end users” of the consumption economy AND “end servers” of the production economy.  The “end producers” for any dollar of goods or services are SO wide spread one must first assume, every dollar is distributed as an average share of GDP and reflects the average impacts of the whole, good and bad.

Continue reading Ideal Model: New Architecture for Economic Self-Governance

UN OWG-5 statements – SDG’s missing some signals

Last week was unusually successful for me at the UN, or felt that way.   The increasing openness of the process, and my good luck in finding socially acceptable ways to stay it, both helped me.  So I was able to bring small flashes of light to the deeper kinds of issues about “What to Do with the Earth” that the UN is continuing to expand it’s discussion of,..

toward defining the world’s “Sustainable Development Goals”  

It’s really an amazingly broad discussion of every aspect of how the “world we want” should work, a truly impressive effort, well, of course still leaving out the things that we are culturally blind to and at the same time feverishly looking for to save our necks in a terrible situation     Here are three of my statements for OWG-5, and capsule assessment of the UN’s Technical Support Team briefs for OWG-6 for framing everyones terms of discussion for the issues.

Yes, but can we REALLY now have energy and equity for all?

  1. Macroeconomics – of ever increasing inequity
  2. More Energy – for ever growing demand
  3. Mismatched measure – impacts missing from responsibilities
  4. Using the economy’s own steering not mentioned

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1.  OWG5 Scheduled 11/25 intervention Macroeconomic Policy  (circulated) 

Promoting growth at the limits creates severe increasing, not decreasing, inequities

The great variety of urgent SDG’s being discussed are truly desirable, but can only be somehow addresses together.

Monday morning Bernbadette Fischler offered a model that seems consistent with cost estimates for doing all this, that the SDG’s might for a period cost 2% of the income of the over developed economies to kick start the growth of the underdeveloped economies.

Say that worked. We’d then have 100% of world population using modern technology, adding their earnings to their investments to drive more growth, and so ever increasing competition over the earth’s shrinking resources too, adding even more strain on both people and planetary boundaries. Continue reading UN OWG-5 statements – SDG’s missing some signals

New object oriented natural science for working with natural systems.