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A New Blueprint for a Green Economy – book review

Edward B. Barbier and Anil Markandya, contributing authors to 1989 classic Blueprint for a Green Economyy, have revisited the theme to implement a green economy and published A New Blueprint for a Green Economy. The central theme of A New Blueprint for a Green Economy is how we can make economies green today given what we have learned from our efforts since 1989. In A New Blueprint for a Green Economy, the authors stress “natural capital” embodiment within financial capital to green the economy.

In A New Blueprint for a Green Economy, the authors first discuss the current status of the Earth’s ecology and the lack of progress made since 1989. Next the authors discuss three key policy areas that must be addressed if we hope to implement sustainability globally. These critical policy areas are: valuation of the environment, accounting for environmental impacts, incentives to mitigate environmental impacts. Finally, the book highlights new policy opportunities now available to positively support greening the global economy.

In particular, as the Stockholm Environment Institute (et al) described in a recent publication, that we are now at or have exceeded the Earth’s ecological “planetary boundary” for nine key systems:

In A New Blueprint for a Green Economy, the authors fortify this discussion by the Stockholm Environment Institute (et al) with their thoughtful and easy-to-read analysis of these boundaries. For example, the authors describe how:

In A New Blueprint for a Green Economy, the authors describe also how we have options to green the economy resulting in mitigating these environmental impacts if we value the environment, account for environmental impacts, and create incentives to mitigate environmental impacts. Demonstrated through the case study method, these options are explained succinctly.

For example, Thailand has lost roughly 60% of its mangroves to shrimp farming. The typical shrimp farm net present value is roughly US$ 9,600 per hectare. This is because shrimp farming is heavily subsidized in Thailand. If instead, we value, account for, and describe the incentives in place to compare shrimp farm vs. existing mangroves, our valuation turns upside down. Instead, profit per hectare shrimp farming net of public costs of pollution and restoration after five years are negative US$ 9,098 while profit per hectare mangroves, after adding public benefits, are US$ 12,392.

In conclusion, the authors provide an excellent description of a clear pathway forward for how to green the global economy allowing for sustainable economic growth and resilience.

How to order:

A New Blueprint for a Green Economy

Publisher: earthscan from Routledge

Author: Edward B. Barbier and Anil Markandya

Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, LEED AP, is a natural resource scientist and financial consultant.

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