2 Nov 2009

Elinor Ostrom tackles the climate change catastrophe

Oh joy I have just found Elinor Ostrom's paper for the World Bank, I bet she has sent all her fee to Russell Means or the Cree (actually I know she is going to plough the Nobel prize cash back into more research into the commons which is very good news).

Elinor notes 'the imminent dangers that the world' faces 'due to melting glaciers, rising sea levels, reduced food supplies, as well as the expected increases in extreme events that climate change was stimulating.' Listen up libertarian climate deniers!

The paper develops many of the classic Ostrom themes from both Elinor and her husband Vincent.

The possibility of the commons and collective action.

The need to bring people on board by showing them the gains from renewable energy and cuts in pollution, there are gains from tackling the climate catastrophe

Former social movement researcher that I am my heart misses a beat when she discusses 'frames', Olson, etc....all good stuff to chew over.

Polycentricism.....i.e instead of just having a world plan we need to tackle climate change at various levels including the local and regional.

Given the urgency we need to do this now.

She flags up all work in London to cut emissions and how that provides an example, she doesn't name check Ken Livingstone and the Green Party but they are the origin of this.

She argues that we need to not only defend indigenous rights but hints at actually expanding indigenous territory 'the rights of indigenous people are at least protected, and ideally enhanced, as a result of support of their management of forest ecologies is a goal that is widely shared by social activists at multiple scales. Accomplishing this goal while expanding the amount of forested land in developing countries would be economically efficient but a difficult challenge.'

its all like this, very safe neutral language, but with some interesting implications, for example, have a think about the implication of the following:

'It is essential that we recognize (1) the complexity of causes of climate change, (2) the challenge of acquiring knowledge about causes and effects in
a world that is changing rapidly, (3) the wide diversity of policies that can lead to reduced emissions but might also enable opportunistic efforts to obtain a flow of funds by appearing to reduce emissions while not having a real impact or, worse, effectively increasing rather than decreasing emissions, (4) the opportunities that major sources of funding open up for policy experiments if funds are also allocated to monitoring and evaluation of the benefits and costs of the experiments, and (5) that all policies adopted at any scale can generate errors, but that without trial and error, learning cannot occur.'

Elinor is great I rest my case.

The World Bank is a very non Elinor institution, will they be throwing up in their cups of coffee when they read all this. Well the Nobel and her record of very careful empirical research give her hegemony.

The Elinor brand of green pro indigenous decentralist collectivism is going to rescue us or least has a better chance of doing so than anything else.

and while the commons is important she does remind me that there is a role for planning as well, but multiple planning drawing on different levels of knowledge and building trust. I am a bit commons great lets let the Aidesep sort everything out, but we need to do stuff globally, regionally, locally, etc.

What is emerging which gives me hope is the thought that both Aidesep and Elinor are working quite hard, we need both! And as she and Vince would say other multiple policy actors.

Well its subtle stuff and I would have loved a more overt attack on the cancer which is carbon trading but its all in there if you take the time to read it.

She is very keen that we test climate policies and make sure they work, that would tend to count out the present approach based on emissions trading if you ask me.

and of course its all open source so you can click and read here

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