Sustainability Reads: September 22- September 28

Beyond GDP: 20 US sates have adopted genuine progress indicators
The gross domestic product (GDP) lacks incentives for environmental and social stewardship, but this article points out the good news that  US states have developed other indicators to holistically and more accurately gauge development. The motivation for an alternative form of measurement to the GDP is perfectly defined by systems thinker Donella Meadows: “If you define the goal of society as GDP, that society will do its best to produce GDP. It will not produce welfare, equity, justice or efficiency unless you define a goal and regularly measure and report the state of welfare, equity, justice, or efficiency.” Vermont was the first state to adopt ‘beyond GDP’ indicators called the GPI which goes up by ”getting more energy from renewables; increased energy efficiency; reducing the income gap; putting more reliable, durable products on the market (have you heard of planned obsolescence?); volunteering more for your community; preserving wetlands, forests, and farmland; shorter commutes and transport routes.’ Sounds pretty great to us so it is no surprise that states such as Maryland and Oregon followed suite. Although the concept is still getting its foot in the door, there is great potential behind these indicators to be used by governments as planning instruments. We hope to see more states and nations adopt ‘beyond GDP’ indicators to create incentives that align with the long-term health of our communities and environment. By Marta Ceroni on Guardian Sustainable Business.

C40 and Siemens Honor Cities for Leadership in Tackling Climate Change
Winners of this year’s City Climate Leadership Awards were announced this week. The winners and their focus areas are listed below, but it is worth checking out the link to learn more about the innovative programs that these cities have implemented.

  • Amsterdam (Finance & Economic Development)
  • Barcelona (Intelligent City Infrastructure)
  • Buenos Aires (Solid Waste Management)
  • London (Carbon Measurement & Planning and Air Quality)
  • Melbourne (Adaptation & Resilience)
  • New York City (Energy Efficient Built Environment)
  • Portland (Sustainable Communities)
  • Seoul (Green Energy)
  • Shenzhen (Urban Transportation)
  • Taipei (Citizen’s Choice)

Global Carbon Budget
Here is a summary of how the world is doing in regards to keeping carbon out of the atmosphere; unfortunately, it doesn’t look good. ‘Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production increased by 2.3% in 2013, with a total of 9.9±0.5 GtC (billion tonnes of carbon) (36 GtCO2) emitted to the atmosphere, 61% above 1990 emissions (the Kyoto Protocol reference year). Emissions are projected to increase by a further 2.5% in 2014. In 2013, the ocean and land carbon sinks respectively removed 27% and 23% of total CO2 (fossil fuel and land use change), leaving 50% of emissions into the atmosphere. The ocean sink in 2013 was 2.9±0.5 GtC, slightly above the 2004-2013 average of 2.6±0.5, and the land sink was 2.5±0.9 GtC slightly below the 2004-2013 average of 2.9±0.8. Total cumulative emissions from 1870 to 2013 were 390±20 GtC from fossil fuels and cement, and 145± 50 from land use change. The total of 535±55GtC was partitioned among the atmosphere (225±5 GtC), ocean (150±20 GtC), and the land (155±60 GtC).’

UN Climate Summit: Ban Ki-moon Final Summary
Missed all the climate action this week in New York or want a brief overview of commitments and initiatives launched at the UN Climate Summit? For a summary of the announcements and actions that took place this week at the UN Climate Summit, take a look at this press release from Ban Ki-moon.

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