Friday, December 19, 2008

A Tale of 7 Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
- Opening line from 'A tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens.

However dire it may appear, the current state of the global economy presents an important opportunity to make broad spectrum changes. The way we manage our cities is crucial to a sustainable future. Cities can create jobs and be more Green, this is the premise of a guide entittled A Tale of 7 Cities. Written by academics from the LSE, the guide examines how 7 European cities managed the death and resurrection of their industrial cores. A riff on the central theme of the Dickens classic, 'A Tale of two Cities'. The guide demonstrates how cities can reinvent themselves. "Parlaying the benefits of innovation and research clusters into cleaning up inner city areas is 'smart economically, and sustainably, since densely built cities use less energy and generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions,' says Bruce Katz, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. "The revival of older industrial cities in Europe has much to teach"

According to an article in Tree Hugger, "One of the best ways to move out of the current financial morass is by promoting and expanding the green job sector, a new report from Worldwatch Institute called Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment outlines the scale of green jobs already out there and advocates that a 'bailout for the environment' can create jobs on a global level and 'help rebuild communities amidst the ashes of the current economic crisis.' The report estimates that retrofitting the European Union’s residential buildings to cut carbon emissions by 75% could create an additional 2.6 million new jobs by 2030. It also argues that from a job creation perspective, developing more public transportation would create more jobs than increases in car manufacturing. [T]he report [also] points out that organic farms employ an average one-third more people per farm than do their non-organic counterparts."

Government policy must support sustainable development to expand green jobs. According to the report:"Integrating social and environmental aspects into the cost of doing business and undertaking large-scale public and private sector investments will be key to realizing the massive potential that green jobs hold. Government targets, mandates, business incentives, and reformed tax and subsidy policies must promote sustainable development in order for the green labor market to take off."

Green provides jobs, grows the economy and bails out the environment. Investment in Green reflects the understanding that the earth and its ecosystems are an important part of the value chain. Green will continue to proliferate out of pragmatic necessity and the need to be competitive will drive radical shifts in our economies. These economic changes will change behaviors and propel the paradigm shift towards a Greener world. By creating jobs and growing the economy, Green offers us a way out of our present predicament. However, meeting the challenges we face demands a new sense of responsibility, a new ethic without the encumbrances of the old polemics and ideological divides.

Next: A Christmas Carol: Green Ethics Combat Corruption

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