The visceral reaction to the murder of George Floyd unleashed deep personal reflection about racism, social justice, and fairness, and launched a powerful, broad based social movement.
The pursuit of justice, fairness, and the shape of our common futures encompasses but also transcends the questions of racism and raises questions about the nature of our civilization.
In this way, the Covid-19 pandemic is understood to fall disproportionally upon people of color, on the poor, on the millions imprisoned in the American gulag, upon undocumented migrants and their families, on residents of nursing homes and longterm care facilities. A substantial portion of our population is placed at risk by their everyday lives.
There is a clear convergence in our minds and in our politics that failures of justice and fairness are driven by root inequalities and inequities created and maintained by our social, economic and political system that are experienced and understood in terms of failures of social and ecological justice.
A substantial portion of our population is not only first to fall victim to covid-19; their homes are washed away by climate change driven flooding; they are poisoned by industrial chemicals, and toxic exhaust where they live and where they work, they have no choice but to use poisoned drinking water, and suffer from poisoned lead pipes that damage their children’s brains, or often have no water at all in the midst of a pandemic where the instruction is to wash and wash your hands; their schools are under funded and failing, their jobs are deemed essential and they are forced to go to work without either seek leave or a living wage or lose everything. Many millions of Americans and billions of the world’s people have the knee of the police and the powerful too often, both literally and figuratively, pressing mercilessly on their necks.
This is the institutional practice not only of racism, but of ever deepening inequities and inequalities in a global liberal capitalist order that savages both social and ecological justice and is rushing pell mell toward global climate catastrophe.
In 2020 we are at a crossroads. Either the Unites States will reject Trumpism and it’s malign incompetence, white nationalism, insensate cruelty, and ecological abuse and embrace a broad agenda in pursuit of social and ecological justice for all, or dive further, perhaps for decades into authoritarianism and unleash irrevocable ecological collapse.
Our system of inequality and injustice is built upon social and ecological pillage. Both people and the living world are consumed, valued for the profits generated by their destruction. The living world is reduced to resources to fuel the machine. Working people and their communities are increasingly employed as powerless gig workers to be used, and cavalierly discarded at the pleasure and of the bosses.
A fundamental principle for social and ecological justice must be a valuing of sustainability as a crucial expression of social and ecological value on the balance sheets of businesses and government and the fair distribution of such wealth to fairly benefit all.
Sustainability, we will see, is not just a luxury for the rich, but the basis for a real and enduring practice of social and ecological justice that benefits all of us. Sustainability will represent the practice of justice and fairness and eventually a global convergence on sustainable norms for all the world’s people, not just the global consuming class on a planet run for the benefit of the billionaires and now aspiring trillionaires.
Sustainability means preservation, and improvement of the living world, of habitat, of so-called natural capital upon which all life is dependent, and upon whose destruction all life, and all economic wealth is being placed at risk
Making Sustainability Count: Sustainability Credits
Valuing sustainability is not just a good will gesture or airy-fairy
foolishness. Valuing sustainability is essential for the continuation of market systems, to avoid ecological collapse and for a prosperous and sustainable ecological civilization transforming industrial business and pollution as usual.
Valuing sustainability is an essential tool for building wealth and real assets, for leveling the playing field for all of us to participate in and to share in the benefit of sustainable and ecological wealth. Sustainability, valued on balance sheets as Sustainability Credits (SCs), can become the essential store of value, the new gold. And unlike a metal whose use value is minor, sustainability credits represent the enduring health and the real wealth supporting our social and economic systems.
A sustainability credit, an SC, is equal to the ecological value ,as determined by the National Academy of Sciences, of displacing one metric ton of carbon dioxide or 2204 pounds.
SCs are what is called a regulatory asset, similar to, but much more significant, than an existing regulatory asset like a REC or Renewable Energy Credit. Today a REC, as defined by states, manifests the renewable nature of sun or wind or hydro or geothermal generation . A REC is quite different in nature and value than an SC.
An SC is created every year based on the amount of carbon dioxide displaced. A typical solar farm for example may operate for thirty years of more, producing SCs every year of operation.
A REC is a one time thing used to subsidize the building of renewable energy to be purchased by competitive energy suppliers as mandated by state regulators or voluntarily by energy users.
An SC is monetized as a balance sheet asset by a green bank or a Bank of the Commons (BOC) in accord with law and Federal Reserve or other central bank regulation of the currency. An SC is the creation of an enduring capital asset.
A REC is an expense for both energy suppliers and energy users raising the price of energy to be sold by energy suppliers or purchased by energy consumers.
An SC is booked as paid-in-capital on the right side of balance sheets aof a green bank nd as cash on the left side with a value of $100 per SC created by carbon dioxide displacement as defined by the NAS.
The SC can create not only the $50 trillion estimated by Wall Street to finance a 100% renewable transformation in 31 years by 2050 and the hundred of trillions of productive investment for a complete transformation of an ecological civilization.
An SC creates ecological capital and a powerful market signal for productive renewable investment as an ongoing and ever increasing part of a national and global market system based upon ecological economic growth, not as oxymoron, but as the basis of a sustainable civilization.
A five megawatt solar farm built today in MA, for example, will produce about 6 million kilowatts of power AC. Each kilowatt, on average, displaces about 1 pound of carbon dioxide from the existing power mix of renewables, fossil fuels and nuclear energy. 6 million pounds of carbon dioxide is equal to 2,722 metric tons of carbon dioxide with 2,722 SCs valued at $272,200 a year or about $8 million over 30 years (since solar output currently decreases by about ½% a year.)
But that’s just the start.
Each year, $272,000 is monetized on the books of a green bank or Bank of the Commons to be used for further investment in carbon dioxide reduction.
The money creating magic underlying the banking system;s everyday operation means a bank must maintain about 10% of its own assets to support their loan portfolio. The $272,000 can therefore in normal bank loan business and be increased 9 fold to about $2.5 million in new renewable investments a year creating more and more SCs each year that are similarly reinvested at a leverage of 9 to one.
In 2018 global carbon emissions according to Statistica amounted to 36.6 billion metric tons globally. This means the global total potential for yearly creation of SCs for further renewable investments in sustainability is $3.6 trillion a year on books of green banks for a yearly investment of $32 trillion dollars a year in sustainability.
This is the financial basis for a system based on ecological economic growth. This is what can finance a green new deal globally. This is what can support a living wage for all and a global convergence on justice and fairness for all the world’s people.
This is the future promise of turning a hitherto self-destructive economic practice toward sustainable ends.
This is not helicopter money and running the printing presses to produce cash or using our tax dollars to further benefit the rich and bail out wall street yet again.
SCs represent the real value of sustainability and of the repair and protection of the living world and of building a fair and just society for all.
This is the movement set into motion by the death of George Floyd that can lead to a global transformation for the common benefit to set in motion building of an ecological civilization.
Not Just Energy
Valuing sustainability will support and drive the transformation not just of energy, but of agriculture, forestry, fishing, aquaculture, of an industrial industry to pursue sustainable norms in the context of the pursuit of sustainability and social and ecological justice.
By valuing sustainability on balance sheet.s we will at the same time be able to generate many trillions of dollars necessary not only for a quick transformation from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, but can, in fact, provide the investment capital necessary to make economic growth mean ecological improvement and build an ecological civilization.
The ecological failure of our market system, that is also inextricably connected to its social failure, is rooted its its failure to value sustainability and therefore its inability to send price signals for that leads the market to support sustainable conduct.
This failure of market systems to send proper price signals for sustainability is the basis not only for systemic market failure, but one whose consequence is not just bankruptcy, but ecological collapse.
Valuing Sustainability Credits (SCs) as a new regulatory asset on balance sheets is a rather simple reform, but it is one that will have profound positive consequences. It will create trillions of dollars of real value to be invested in ecological transformation and greatly expand the economy as a paradigmatic expression of ecological economic growth in the 21st century and beyond. It is a far superior instrument then a carbon tax that raises prices. An SC creates and invests wealth and protects and can be he path to share ecological and financial assets fairly for all.
The transformation, for example, of the global energy system toward 100% renewables using for example, wind, solar and green hydrogen produced from renewably powered electrolyzers will lead not just to enormous economic growth, but enormous decreases in pollution, depletion and ecological damage.
What threatens our future is the specific nature of economic growth and its consequences. What need concern us ecologically and socially is not economic growth as a primary evil to be abolished, but the ecological and social consequences of economic growth that can be shaped and mitigated to serve the pursuit of sustainability, of social and ecological justice.
We can trade for example a near limitless amount of information a renewably powered world wide web with minimal ecological damage. All aspects of our economy and civilization can be profitably transformed to pursue sustainability in the context of social and ecological justice. Its crucial to understand in the context of the Black Lives Matter moment, No Justice, No Peace. It is impossible to build a fair, durable, and sustainable civilization without concomitant improvements in social and ecological justice.
The power of SCs is their ability to create enormous amounts of capital wealth for investment and our ability to use these investments for the pursuit of sustainability and social and ecological justice.
SCs can create trillions. Our challenge is to use that wealth wisely and fairly.
Sustainability Credits (SCs) represent a simple, attainable and yet fair and powerful reform that can be the basis for profound social and ecological benefit. The valuing of sustainability through the creation of SCs should be a transformative idea, like democracy, whose time has come.
Part of the work of the movement for social change catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd is to pursue the development of Sustainability Credits as a tool for ecological transformation and the pursuit of social and ecological justice. Sustainability Credits can represent a new global tool for freedom, equality, and justice.
Roy Morrison builds solar farms. Www.RenewableSunPartners.com. His next book will be EIG
(Ecological Economic Growth)
Carbon dioxide emissions totals
Amount of one pounds of carbon per kwh power
In the U.S., on average a kWh of electricity produces a bit more than 1-pound carbon dioxide per kWh. https://blueskymodel.org/kilowatt-hour.
Nation Academy of Sciences (NAS) value of One metric ton carbon doxide emissions
The $100 value has been most recently used in proceedings of the National Academy of Science (NAS) climate change analysis in “Declining CO-2 Price Paths”.
Morgan Stanley recently estimated a $50 trillion dollar investment to bring global carbon emissions to zero by 2020- 2050 (31 years).
“Decarboniztion The Race to Zero Emissions”Nov. 25, 2019.