We all agree that a lot more economic wealth is needed for six billion people let alone nine billion people that we expect to live on earth by the mid of the century. Doubling wealth is the least, I suggest, what we should aim at.
On the other hand, we are already now overexploiting the earth. Just to stabilise carbon dioxide concentrations, we would need a reduction of annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than fifty percent. Similarly, ocean fishing should be cut in half. We seem to loose some fifty animal and plant species every day. To stop this trend, we ought to radically reduce land conversion. It is fair to say that we should reduce the consumption of natural resources by roughly a factor of two.
Doubling wealth while halving resource use, that is quite a challenge. The answer could be quadrupling resource productivity. In a book co-authored by Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, “Factor Four” (Earthscan, London 1997) fifty examples of quadrupled resource productivity are featured.
My friend Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek goes considerably further and suggests to increase resource productivity tenfold: Factor 10 Institute.
If you are interested in the factor four agenda, have a look at some of my papers in this field. You may as well visit the Wuppertal Institute’s factor four homepage, administered by Raimund Bleischwitz.
My environmental interest go beyond the factor four agenda. In October 2002 I was appointed Chairman of the Bundestag’s Environment Committee. Here we are working on
- The adaptation to German laws of EU environmental directives,
- The interface of environment and agriculture,
- The promotion of renewable sources of energy,
- International environmental agreements,
- Commenting draft legislation from other policy fields.