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Progress Towards Sustainable Production & Consumption in the United States International Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production December 6, 2003, Changsha City, China
Overview I. III. IV. What is SPAC? Goals and objectives Progress in the US Obstacles & challenges
I. Goals and objectives Rio Principle 8: “To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption…” Johannesburg Plan of Implementation: “Encourage and promote the development of a 10 -year framework of programmes in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production…”
What is SPAC? (Sustainable Production & Consumption) “The [creation and] use of services and related products which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations. ” - OECD (1994) An integrative strategy for meeting human needs and improving the quality of life for all without causing harm. - ISF (2003)
An overarching objective of sustainable development National sustainability strategy Local sustainability strategies Eradicate poverty Manage natural resources Change unsustainable production & consumption Achieve higher quality of life for everyone
A framework of policy tools Consumption behavior & trends; Needs analysis; Impacts of consumption practices Values, norms & behavior Consumer information Right-to-Know Education for sustainability Advertising reform Eco-labeling Packaging Pricing Transportation Trade Sustainability Assessment: Analysis of impacts of current practices Analysis of effectiveness of policies Identification of obstacles Strategies for overcoming obstacles Government procurement Subsidy reform Eco-taxes/shifting Investment guidelines Socially Responsible Investment Financial institutions reforms Integrated Product Policy/ Life Cycle Analysis Health & safety standards Clean production Industrial ecology Extended Producer Responsibility Precautionary Principle Polluter pays
SPAC objectives in Agenda 21 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Reduce stress and meet needs. Develop a better understanding of consumption. Promote efficiency and reduce waste. Reinforce values and policies Develop a domestic policy framework that will encourage a shift.
II. Progress in the US n n n What is the US doing to address these objectives? What is the US strategy on SPAC? What are the targets and timetables? What are the obstacles? What is being done to overcome those obstacles?
The world’s biggest consumer & polluter n n n America consumes over 40% of the world's gasoline and more paper, steel, aluminum, energy, water, and meat per capita than any other society on the planet. The average American produces twice as much garbage as the average European. At least four additional planets would be needed if each of the planet's 6 billion inhabitants consumed at the level of the average American. - Center for a New American Dream
The US leaves one of the largest ecological footprints on the planet
Is the US taking the lead? “Developed countries should take the lead in achieving sustainable consumption patterns. ” - Agenda 21 and Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21
No national targets or strategy n n n No established targets or timelines to measure progress towards SPAC No domestic policy framework on SPAC to define criteria or indicators No national sustainable development strategy to guide and integrate policies and interagency efforts
No specific decision-making structure currently exists. Questions dealing with development of any federal role in addressing consumption issues in an overarching manner would need to be addressed by the Congress in consultation with the Administration. - US Country Report to CSD on Implementation of Agenda 21, 1997 “National policies promoting sustainable consumption and production in the United States are generally implemented by the Executive Branch of the Federal government… In the United States, however, most actions and policies that determine consumption are undertaken by civil society, or by the state or local governments. ” - US Country Report for WSSD, December 2001
1. Reducing stress & meeting needs: n Significant progress in past decade toward more sustainable approach to chemicals and pesticides: n n n Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) led to reductions in chemical releases, e. g. , 45. 5% of core chemicals between 1988 -1999. 1996 Food Quality Protection Act focused attention on aggregate and cumulative risk from pesticide residues. Progress on pollution prevention tools & education, but not clear where they succeeded or failed. US has played leadership role in lead poisoning prevention. However, environmental impacts of resource consumption in the US…have increased by 15% over the past decade. John Dernbach, Stumbling Toward Sustainability (2002)
Energy consumption and stress in the US is increasing n n Between 1992 -2000, primary energy consumption increased by 20%. Since 1975, energy efficiency has declined by 2% per year. Renewable energy as share of total US energy consumption declined from 7. 2% in 1992 to 6. 9% in 2000. Energy-related CO 2 emissions increased by 13% since 1992.
Increased affluence, especially when others suffer, is not prosperity “Americans today are twice as affluent as in the 1950 s, yet those saying they are “very happy” declined from 35% to 32%. The divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide rate nearly tripled, violent crime nearly quadrupled, and more people than ever (especially teens and young adults) are depressed. ” David Myers, The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty (2000)
Making investment responsible A national nonprofit membership organization promoting the concept, practice, and growth of socially responsible investing SRI considers both the investor's financial needs and an investment’s impact on society. With SRI, you can put your money to work to build a better tomorrow while earning competitive returns today. Social investors include individuals and institutions such as corporations, universities, hospitals, foundations, insurance companies, pension funds, nonprofit organizations, churches and synagogues.
Challenging destructive subsidies: Since 1994, the Green Scissors Campaign, led by Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and U. S. Public Interest Research Group, has been working with Congress and the Administration to end environmentally harmful and wasteful spending. Working to breach party lines, the Green Scissors Campaign has helped cut more the $26 billion in environmental wasteful programs from the federal budget
2. Developing a better understanding of consumption Early years 1854: Thoreau, Walden – Marks American Transcendentalism. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. " 1892: Chemist Ellen Swallow Richards introduces [Ernst Haeckel’s] concept “oekology” (the science of right living) to the United States. 1899: Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class; concept of “conspicuous consumption” – motivated not by inherent utility of goods but symbolic utility in communicating status 1936: R. B. Gregg, The Value of Voluntary Simplicity
Understanding consumption Mid-century 1949: James Duesenberry –copying the neighbors in consumption behavior, “keeping up with the Joneses, ” relative income hypothesis; 1957: Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders: What Makes Us Buy, Believe and Vote the Way We Do? - raised public awareness of use of social science by advertising to shape consumer wants. 1958: John Kenneth Galbraith: The Affluent Society; challenged the assumption of “consumer sovereignty” 1962: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, raised public awareness of the dangers of chemicals to environment and human health. 1968: Paul Ehrlich, Population Bomb, raised alarm over implications of global population growth.
Understanding consumption 1972: Donella Meadows, et al, The Limits to Growth (Club of Rome) – Drew attention to the impacts of unsustainable development and assumption of unlimited resources and sinks. 1973: Stuart Ewen: Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Society – Highlighted campaign by industry leaders in 1920 s to define American life as consumerism; emphasis on individualism vs. traditional focus on small community & extended family. 1981: Duane Elgin, Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich - Highlighted the American “simplicity movement. ” 1992: Alan Durning: How Much Is Enough? The Consumer Society and the Future of the Earth – Highlighted the destructive impact of American consumer lifestyles on the rest of the planet, while at the same time not providing fulfillment but greater material hunger.
Understanding consumption After Rio 1993: Vicki Robin, New Roadmap Foundation: Your Money or Your Life? – Best-seller exploring difference between making a living and making a life. 1994: EPA asks National Research Council to define a research agenda on US consumption 1995: Survey of American views on consumption (Merck Family Fund): “Americans believe our priorities are out of whack. …They believe materialism, greed, and selfishness increasingly dominate American life, crowding out a more meaningful set of values centered on family, responsibility, and community. ” 1998: Juliet Shor, The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need – Concept of “competitive consumption, ” driven by need to keep up not with neighbors but increasingly upscale norms … a situation rejected by social movement of “down-shifters. ”
3. Promoting efficiency & reducing waste n n n Shift from material & energy intensive sectors to services. Energy efficiency improvements. Reduction of energy intensity of more than 25% in last 20 years. - ECE Assessment Report (2002)
Gains offset by increases n n “Although progress has been made in improving ecoefficiency in the countries of the ECE region and in decoupling environmental and economic developments, these gains have been offset by overall increases in consumption. “More natural resources are being consumed and more pollution is being generated. ” -- ECE Assessment Report
Promoting efficiency & reducing waste: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) n EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (1995) n n Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal Acquisition (1998): n n n Part of EPA's continuing effort to promote the use of materials recovered from solid waste. Buying recycled-content products ensures that the materials collected in recycling programs will be used again in the manufacture of new products. To improve the Federal Government's use of recycled products and environmentally preferable products and services. “The head of each executive agency shall incorporate waste prevention and recycling in the agency's daily operations and work to increase and expand markets for recovered materials. ” State and local government initiatives: n n Phoenix (chemical purchases), Vermont (“Clean State Initiative”), Oakland (1999 anti-dioxin resolution, mandating less toxic products and processes); Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania , Vermont and Washington and local governments adopted environmental standards for cleaning product purchases. City of Santa Monica, 100% renewable electricity purchases; San Francisco, among other local governments, switched to Integrated Pest Management
Promoting efficiency & reducing waste: Increasing consumption despite efficiencies n Increase in consumption occurred despite movement from more resource-intensive production to greater use of services: n n n Americans produce more municipal waste per capita than any other country, are the leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions, and the largest producer of toxic wastes. Per capita waste generation declined from 1990 to 1995, then steadily increased since 1996, despite recycling and composting. Trend toward lighter packaging offset by increases in purchasing and waste. Between 1960 -1996, increased waste, pounds/person: n n Paper & paperboard: From 332 to 602 lb. Plastics: 4 to 149 lb. Textiles: 19 to 58 lb. Wood: 34 to 82 lb.
Educating about SPAC: University Leaders for a Sustainable Future Assists colleges and universities in making sustainability an integral part of curriculum, research, operations and outreach. ULSF is also the secretariat for signatories of the Talloires Declaration (1990), which has been signed by more than 300 university presidents and chancellors around the world.
Promoting economic alternatives: Co-op America, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982, provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to address today's social and environmental problems. While many environmental organizations choose to fight important political and legal battles, Co-op America is the leading force in educating and empowering our nation's people and businesses to make significant improvements through the economic system.
America's premier directory of qualified green companies — companies with demonstrated commitments to social and environmental responsibility. Search for over 25, 000 products and services from 2, 000 green companies. Published by Co-op America, supporting supports the use of boycotts as a powerful economic strategy consumers can use to enact social change. Responsible Shopper can help you find out! Discover the good, the bad and the ugly behind the products you buy everyday — from clothing to shoes to toothpaste. Investigate hundreds of companies on a range of issues, including: Sweatshops, Pollution, Ethics, Discrimination and more.
4. Reinforce values and policies n Mass advertising a major force promoting consumerism n n n Continued support for destructive subsidies: agriculture, energy – despite calls for reform Since 1992, many environmental laws not strengthened (e. g. , CAFÉ), current regulatory rollbacks n n Typical American watches 150, 000 TV advertisements in lifetime In 1997, American industry invested more than $100 billion on television advertising, Advertising expenditures are tax-deductible – another subsidy Major debate on role of regulations vs. the market and voluntary approaches Major social movements for non-commercial values, voluntary simplicity, cultural alternatives are growing as well as their impact.
Raising awareness: Center for a New American Dream The Center for a New American Dream helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life and promote social justice We are attempting nothing less than a shift of American culture away from its current emphasis on consumption towards a more fulfilling, just and sustainable way of life.
A program of nine simple actions each of us can take to have a measurable, positive impact on the environment - and it shows us this impact right away. To help state and local governments and other large purchasers incorporate environmental considerations into their purchasing decisions Not only helping you discover the secret life of consumer products, but to make the right thing easier to do. We’ll connect you to better choices and help you find what you are looking for.
Informing citizens: The Right-to-Know Network provides free access to numerous databases, text files, and conferences on the environment, housing, and sustainable development. With the information available on RTK NET, you can identify specific factories and their environmental effects; analyze reinvestment by banks in their communities; and assess people and communities affected.
Protecting right to information: Working Group on Community Right to Know The Working Group on Community Right-to. Know helps people defend and improve our right-to-know about environmental and public health concerns. The Working Group serves a nationwide network of organizations and individuals whose right-to-know advocacy makes government responsive, holds corporations accountable, empowers communities, and protects public health and the environment.
5. Developing a domestic policy framework that will encourage a shift n n We need a national strategy and government leadership Federal process began with PCSD Taskforce on Population & Consumption (ended in 1999) Current Federal government has not taken the lead, putting more emphasis on the market State & local authorities have moved forward on sustainability strategies n n n New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania Seattle, Santa Monica, San Francisco, North American Sustainable Consumption Alliance
Developing appropriate measures Sustainability Indicators Program RP's Genuine Progress Indicator™ (GPI) and Ecological Footprint™ index offer compelling challenges to traditional ways in which economic, social, and ecological impacts are conceptualized and measured. Community Indicators Project A community indicators movement has arisen around the nation… Currently, over 200 communities around the country--from Missoula, Montana, to Jacksonville, Florida--have developed sets of indicators that illuminate longterm trends of economic, environmental, and social well-being and chart the path to a changed future.
A strategic partnership of people and organizations working to promote more sustainable consumption patterns in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Our mission is to facilitate information exchange, communication and outreach and collaborative action around sustainable consumption. We strive to influence social and economic forces to make the case for sustainable choices more compelling. http: //nasca. icspac. net/about/whatis. aspx
NASCA partners n n n n n n Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention Canadian Institute for Environmental Law & Policy Center for A New American Dream Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources Colectivo Ecologista Jalisco Consumers Union Cooperative Coffees Environment Canada - National Office of Pollution Prevention Global Action Plan for the Earth Green Seal INFORM Inc. Integrative Strategies Forum International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation Red Ambiental Juvenil de Yucatan A. C. (RAJY) Secretaria de Medio Ambiente Y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) Statistics Canada Terrachoice Environmental Services Inc. United Nations Environment Programme U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Universidad Anáhuac de Xalapa University of Massachusetts Lowell (Lowell Center for Sustainable Production) University of Sonora
IV. Obstacles to progress Consumer culture (individualistic n n n values, consumer habits) Lack of understanding of SPAC Policies undermining progress: destructive subsidies Opposition from interest groups No national framework or strategy on SPAC or sustainable development Institutional inertia
The challenge § The US must take full responsibility for our role as world’s biggest consumer & polluter. § We need to take leadership in developing a national SPAC strategy, with targets and timelines. § Many in the US are taking responsibility and significant action; this needs recognition and support. § Many improvements and initiatives to change our unsustainable patterns are taking place, but there needs to be much more. § The challenge is immense: Transforming our economy, our personal habits and our understanding of “success. ” § We do not have the luxury of time. We do have a precious opportunity to change in time.