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Limits and Beyond: Justice
Chapter 5: 50 years after The Limits to Growth
We have reviewed the first four chapters of the book Limits and Beyond. The reviews are:
The fifth chapter of the book, written by Dr. von Weizsäcker, describes the history of the Club of Rome. It notes that society has chosen to use efficiency gains to increase the use of resources rather than control further growth (Jevons’s Paradox). The chapter also confirms that there is no decoupling of material wealth from resource availability.
The Model correctly assumed that simply, people always consider increasing consumption to be better than saving natural resources.
Our author states that, although the LtG report “got it right”, a fresh approach was needed. A new report was issued in the year 2018.
A new agenda of the Club of Rome was formulated. . . The aim is to effectively contribute to the development of civilization in a direction where social and geographical justice make it politically feasible to concentrate on solutions overcoming the dangers we face.
This approach diverges from that of the recently issued SEC Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors. The first words of the Introduction to the proposed rule read as follows,
We are proposing to require registrants to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports, including certain information about climate-related financial risks and climate-related financial metrics in their financial statements. The disclosure of this information would provide consistent, comparable, and reliable—and therefore decision-useful—information to investors to enable them to make informed judgments about the impact of climate-related risks on current and potential investments.
We see two strands of thought here. The first is that proposed by Dr. von Weizsäcker. It is to do with “social and geographical justice”. These topics are intensely subjective. By contrast, the SEC (United States Securities and Exchange Commission) approach is more objective. Investors would be provided with hard, actionable information to do with greenhouse gas emissions. (However, Scope 3 reporting is likely to be more subjective as discussed in Scope 3 Emissions: Systems Complexity. For this reason I have submitted two comments to the SEC urging them to focus on Scopes 1 and 2 and to defer action on Scope 3.)
Assuming that the proposed SEC rule is finalized in something like its present form, companies in the United States will be stretched just to meet their Scope 1 and 2 obligations in the short amount of time available. (Many other nations are introducing similar rules, generally based on ‘Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ and ‘Greenhouse Gas Protocol’ guidance.) These companies are not going to have the time, resources, or management overhead for a sustained commitment to “social and geographical justice”. Moreover, if such justice is to be achieved, it will be necessary to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is that the Club of Rome will have much more hard data to work with than in the past. Rules such as that from the SEC will provide objective information that will be helpful to all.
As they say, “What gets measured gets done”.,