Posts Tagged ‘This Changes Everything’

Weekend Reading

Saturday, January 24th, 2015
No More Status Quo

No More Status Quo

I am catching up on my reading this weekend and just finished Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Klein argues that the need to address climate change provides the opportunity to address long-standing and counterproductive policies in many domains. I particularly enjoyed her treatment of the intersection of climate change issues and global trade protocols.

In particular, the book cites a study published by the 2011 Proceedings of the National Academy of Science which found that the emissions from the industrialized countries that had signed the Kyoto Protocol (an international framework to reduce carbon emission) had stopped increasing, in part, because these countries had moved their heaviest polluting manufacturing operations overseas. The study found that the rise in emissions from goods produced in developing countries by consumed in industrialized ones was six times greater than the emissions savings of the industrialized countries that had signed the Protocol.

I also appreciated the author’s insights into the conflict between the “Buy Local” movement and international trade agreements. Many disaster-impacted communities (and not just those impacted by disaster, but they are the ones that caught my attention) promote “Buy Local” movements, in part, to help rebuild devastated local economies. It is also good policy to support local producers as they are more reliable suppliers when disasters delay or stop the shipment of needed goods. I was particularly impressed by the commitment of the “Buy Local” movement in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Of course, “Buy Local” also offers reduced carbon emissions as goods need not be transported across long distances to reach consumers. And therein lies the conflict with international trade agreements that rest on non-discrimination rules requiring that foreign companies be treated no less favorably than domestic suppliers.  I had expected the book to present more data on the need to reduce carbon emissions to reduce weather-related hazards and the increasing frequency of large-scale disasters, but found the treatment of trade policies to be more intriguing.  I might not finish the book this weekend, but at the halfway point, I can already recommend it.