Category Archives: News

Relevant events and developments
This section not now being used – new material appears in posts

Oppose the campaign to abolish Air Passenger Duty

Steady State Manchester

There have been straws in the wind and now there is a concerted campaign to abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) – see (sorry you’ll have to copy and paste – we don’t want to help them too much!)The campaign is backed by Manchester Airport Group (with majority stakes from the councils in Greater Manchester), and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, although so far there has been little support from other North West businesses.  We are launching a counter-campaign – see below and please lend your support.

Let’s just go over the facts again:

As we noted in our In Place of Growth report “[Total carbon footprint due to] ‘personal flights’ accounts for 11.19% of Greater Manchester’s emissions (and 15.18% of Manchester’s), the aviation sector only accounts for 1.3% of the economy (measured by GVA, a local variant of GDP) and this is growing rapidly (3% in 2011)”.  Heavily…

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Having more, or living better?

This human community is in danger due to climate change which is related to the accumulation of riches by countries and social groups…. We have to change the belief that to have more is to live better”.
Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, 22 December, 2012

To see what this means in Manchester, see our reports, Living Well and In Place of Growth:

Morales image

Evo Morales speaking on climate and accumulation at the celebration of the December solstice.

Who’s putting pressure on the planet? | Doughnut Economics

Who’s putting pressure on the planet? | Doughnut Economics.

Useful video, especially at this tie of continued inaction by the rich nations (and especially the USA) seen for example at Doha.  Interesting too in the light of Lord Stern’s comments on the need for the BRICS to cut emissions.

Steady State Manchester’s first reports published: “In Place of Growth” and “Living Well” Also see the launch event on Tuesday 20th November.

Steady State Manchester

Growth of the economy is generally taken to be an unqualified measure of success, but scientists from a range of disciplines are asking whether we might already have had too much of a good thing. Meanwhile, political economists are returning to the fundamental question of what the economy is for and what the consequences of setting other goals might be. In Manchester, the City Council and civil society groups are considering the practicalities at a city scale and wondering if the financial crisis means that regional economies may struggle to return to economic growth in the long term.

This event, in a Question Time format, brings together a panel of experts and policy makers to answer your questions and discuss the key issues.

Thurs 1 st Nov, 5-7pm, Roscoe Lecture Theatre B

If you’d like to submit a question in advance please email with “Growth” in the subject line.

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An interesting interview with Arturo Escobar about the Andean concept of ‘Buen Vivir’ or ‘Good Living’. This is close to the ideas being explored and promoted by GreenDealmanchester and SteadyStateManchester – we do need to find our own local articulation of this thinking, drawing on the best of our own cultural traditions (as for example in the work of Raymond Williams in his seminal essay Socialism and Ecology).


28 Sep 2012

‘Alternatives to development’: an interview with Arturo Escobar


At the 2012 Degrowth conference in Venice one of the highlights for me was the talk by Arturo Escobar(my notes from which can be found here). He is the author of Encountering Development and Territories of Difference, among others.  His talk looked at how Transition might look in the context of the Global South, and held many fascinating insights.  Here is the interview I did with him, first as an audio file, and below as a transcript.

So, Arturo, could you tell us a little bit about yourself please?

My name is Arturo Escobar, I was born and grew up in Colombia and I teach in the US, at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. I teach anthropology and most of my work as an anthropologist is also in Colombia, especially the rainforest…

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This post has appeared on SteadyStateManchester. While not unlike some traditional stories about the perils of unlimited abundance (the goose that laid the golden eggs, Midas, the men who sought gold and found death…) it adds some other dimensions – division of labour, exploitation, generational issues, exponential growth – despite being some 1000 years old.
It is a small contribution to renewing our understandings of real prosperity.

Steady State Manchester

Economic Growth a Fable.

This is a Chinese story, maybe 1,000 years old, Wang’s jar.

Wang, a poor peasant who could hardly feed his family, found a large empty jar and took it home.  While cleaning it, he dropped the brush he was using into the jar and suddenly the jar was full of brushes: brushes and more brushes and, for each one that Wang took out, another magically appeared inside the jar.  For some months the Wang family lived from the sale of brushes and, while still not comfortably off, their situation improved considerably.

But one day, while taking brushes out of the jar, Wang dropped a coin in the jar and then the jar filled with coins: coins and more coins.  The Wang family soon became the richest in the village and, so many coins being produced by the jar and so busy were the family, that Wang…

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Bolivia on the Green Economy

Spot on Solón!
New York, April 20th, 2011

For the Green Economy, capitalism’s mistake is not having fully incorporated nature as part of capital. That is why its central proposal is to create “environmentally friendly” business and green jobs and in that way limit environmental degradation by bringing the laws of capitalism to bear on nature.

In other words, the transfusion of the rules of market will save nature. This requirement of the Green Economy is absolutely wrong


Read the whole statement.

Also see Bolivia’s input to the UN Rio+20 document (in English -after the first page)  (in Spanish – I’m looking for a translation) president Evo Morales comments and  Bolivia’s reservations re the final Rio+20 statement.

Traditional coca production in La Yungas, Bolivia: “coca sí, coacina no!”.

The right sort of market – agrobiodiversity in La Paz

Manchester City Council and Steady State Economics.

Manchester City Council and Steady State Economics.

(read this as a Word document (with appendices): Manchester City Council and Steady State Economics

Manchester City Council’s Economic Scrutiny Committee has commissioned a report on Steady State Economics.  This is potentially a very positive move- few councils and government bodies are taking the need question of ‘limits to growth’ seriously despite the overwhelming evidence of these limits (from the early 1970s onwards) and the clear evidence that the planet has passed and/or is passing several of the planetary ecosystem limits after which irreversible and damaging change is probably inevitable.

Unfortunately, the report which is now available, is disappointing.

1)  The report appears to dismiss the concept of steady state economics from the outset and therefore does not review the growing body of work available (see the Appendix 1  for some of these sources).

2)  The report fails to address the critical question about mitigating the effects of growth.  As the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission (disbanded by the current government) showed convincingly in its report Prosperity Without Growth, improved efficiency of resource use comes about with growth (because of innovation in technology) but these improvements are only relative.  That is to say the proportion of emissions in relation to GDP reduces, but the problem is that while GDP is increasing, the absolute level of emissions (and resource use) also increases, although it is falling relatively.  The net effect of growth then is continued increasing ecosystem damage.  The report discusses these relative reductions but fails to consider the critical issue of absolute emissions.  Nor does it consider the Jevons paradox – that increases in efficiency do not produce reductions in resource use, but further stimulate resource consumption.

3) The report makes reference (in a rather obscurantist way) to endogenous growth theory.   This is contrasted to neoclassical economic theory.  But all this is really saying is that government intervention can promote growth.  The argument is not relevant to the question of a closed loop or steady state economy.

However, the idea of endogenous development is an interesting one since if taken seriously the idea of economic development (rather than growth) from within the region is relevant to the strategy of (relative) de-linking of the local economy from the global economy.   There is some discussion of these topics in the GreenDealManchester paper ‘Getting Started on the Economy”.  Not surprisingly this is incomplete work – this is difficult stuff, trying to construct alternative approaches in the face of an economic orthodoxy that is the lifeblood of the current system.  De-linking is implicitly ruled out by the report

4)  The council report is clear that there would be very tricky issues were it to promote a steady state economy (SSE):

“…even it were desirable there are no realistic prospects of developing an SSE in Manchester – as international and national policy is not geared to this goal, making any meaningful impact minimal, and seriously disadvantaging the city’s economic performance, to the detriment of its residents.”

But we need to counter this by asking “Is growth a realistic prospect anyway?” (see Appendix 2).  There has been very little growth since 2007 and there seems little prospect of the healthy (sic) 3% growth rate returning.  The city therefore needs an alternative strategy which as has been argued elsewhere would emphasise ‘good living rather than continued consumption’, increased equality, and changes in the way we live in Manchester.   Of course this cannot be done unilaterally and in isolation, but isn’t Manchester meant t be a leader, an innovator, a tail-blazer, a pathfinder – a place where tomorrow happens today?


The challenges of a Steady State Economy are considerable, but the council report does not provide a basis for a serious consideration of the limits to growth, nor of the strategies that would need to be adopted to manage an economy with closed-loop and steady state features in these very challenging times of zero growth.

Earth at tipping point – official

Yesterday the UNEP again warned that the earth is at tipping point.    The report reiterates what we already know, that several planetary boundaries have been crossed and others are at the point of being crossed.  That means disaster of course.  It is good to have this reminder from a highly respected body, but will the governments it addresses take any notice (other than the few like Tuvalu and Bolivia that have taken the question of ecological justice seriously)?

See: Morning Star short article.   UNEP pess release and link to the report. Background on Rockstrom’s concept of planetary boundaries: Wikipedia  Nature. Ecology and Society Rockstrom video and transcript.

Click to see diagram to illustrate where we are in terms of current limits.

See this Oxfam paper that combines Planetary Boundaries with foundations for adequate human development – really useful framework.