Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SIO Conference Preview: Measuring the Transition to a Green Economy

by Tim Nash

Hazel Henderson has been advocating for a greener economy since she served as Chair of Citizens for Clean Air in 1964. A futurist at heart, she’s always been decades ahead of her time. Her 1981 book “The Politics of the Solar Age” discussed the fallacies faced by conventional economists in their shallow attempts to understand and incorporate environmental externalities into their models. She contrasted the economics of solar versus nuclear energies, and called for a paradigm shift away from a disposable culture into one that embraces renewable resources.

Hazel’s latest project is called the Green Transition Scoreboard®. The Scoreboard is an attempt to aggregate private investments in the global green economy. The latest update (Feb, 2011) pegs the figure at $2,005,048,785,088. It includes figures across five sectors: renewable energy; smart grid; efficiency and green construction; corporate R&D; and cleantech.

Several reports, including WWF’s The Energy Report and the UNEP’s Towards a Green Economy, show that our global society can shift away from a dirty fossil-fuel based economy towards a clean renewables-based one. Kick-starting this transition will take approximately $1 trillion of investments every year until 2020. Indeed, Mercer’s Climate Change Scenarios - Implications for Strategic Asset Allocation suggests that 40% of institutional money should be switched into “climate-sensitive assets” to hedge against carbon pricing risks and to profit from economic opportunities resulting from this transition. The Scorecard is designed to measure the extent of this transition, and to show investors that the bandwagon is leaving.

Hazel Henderson is a guest speaker at this year’s Social Investment Conference: Creating Value, Making a Difference in Victoria, B.C. June 20-22.

Timothy Nash has been dedicated to sustainable investing for over seven years. In 2008, he founded Strategic Sustainable Investments. He earned his M.Sc. in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology (Karlskrona, Sweden) and his B.A. in Economics from the University of King’s College (Halifax, Canada). He has completed the Canadian Securities Course, and is a Senior Research Advisor to Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil). He leads the research team for the Green Transition Scoreboard®, which has found more than $2 trillion of private investments flowing into the global green economy. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada and is often found at the Centre for Social Innovation.

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