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human politics human value

Missing the point on immigration

This week I’m reading Martin Whitlock’s book Human Politics, Human Value, which is turning out to be a good one. He has a take on migration that I thought was worth sharing, given the high profile of the topic at the moment. On the one hand, the political parties are competing to see who look […]

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jlr solar roof

The economics of clean energy in poor countries

A few years ago, one of the most common arguments against climate change action was that renewable energy was uneconomic. We couldn’t afford it. And if we couldn’t afford it, neither could emerging economies. They would push ahead with coal power and make our carbon cutting irrelevant – so why bother? That’s an argument that […]

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The triple loss of fossil fuel exploration subsidies

In 2009, the G20 group of countries agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. To give their own reasons, “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.” No deadline was given for this phase out, […]

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The carbon countdown

One of the recurring questions around climate change is the matter of how long we’ve got to stop it. What’s the timetable for emissions cuts? When do emissions need to peak? Or is it too late already? These are questions that can’t be answered with a simple figure. Like the question of how many people […]

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When development campaigns go wrong

Last week I got the latest mailing from the World Development Movement. They’re an organisation that does some useful work, their campaign on the tar sands in Madagascar being one that I personally got involved in. But their latest mailing is on the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and it made me […]

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The changing face of the equality debate

Like climate change, inequality is a global, systemic problem. Both are long-term and because they unfold in such slow motion, are easily pushed off the agenda by more obviously urgent things. And like climate science, our understanding of inequality is moving fast. It’s been an interesting debate to track over the past few years on […]

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Sustainable architecture in developing countries

One of the topics I write about most often on the blog is sustainable buildings. There are a few reasons why. One is that in another life, I could happily have been an architect. (I’m not a complete geek, but the doll’s house I’m currently building for Christmas meets Le Corbusier’s five points) Beyond my […]

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What we learned this week

Analysts at Deutsche Bank predict that all 50 US states will see grid parity for solar power by 2018. Crowdfunding campaign of the week goes to the excellent STIR magazine for their programme of community workshops. I had my doubts that the Fair Tax Mark would be picked up by larger companies, but SSE have […]

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catecar dragonfly

The world’s first off-grid electric car

In the last couple of years, electric cars have come a long way. Solar cars, those that can charge themselves, have been limited to industry concepts or DIY experiments. This sort of thing: Browsing a copy of New Economy magazine last week, I discovered that there is now a fully autonomous solar car. Considering the […]

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rethinking the city

Rethinking the City, by Steven Liaros

“We are at a unique point in human history” says Steven Liaros. “With economic and environmental crises peaking at the moment of the ‘virtual revolution’ there is a growing sense that, as Voltaire himself said: ‘the present is pregnant with the future.’” Rethinking the City is an overview of this moment and some of the […]

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