climate change economics technology

The Manchester Report

In the industrial age Manchester was a huge hub of innovation, with hundreds of patents filed. Inspired by this legacy of creative problem solving, the   Manchester Report project invited a series of thinkers to present their most imaginative ideas for fighting climate change.

The top twenty are all available to view on the Guardian website, and a vote will pick a winner from the top ten. The most popular suggestions will be circulated to world governments as the final report.

Unfortunately my favourite idea won’t be among them. It’s already out of the top ten – that was Andrew Simms’ recommendation that we  stop pursuing growth as our ultimate purpose.

As far as I’m concerned, growth economics remains the underlying question behind climate change, as well as pollution, debt, and a bundle of other besetting problems. “Gross domestic product (GDP) is a simple measure that recognises all economic activity as being of equal value” says the write-up of Simms’ proposal. “By this metric, a citizen who commutes a hundred miles a day in a 4×4, burning up large volumes of fossil fuels, contributes more to economic health than someone who walks to work.”

Until we fix that, most of the other solutions on offer are only a temporary measure.


  1. Pity the easiest and most effective interim idea is not one of the 20 … introduce a national 50mph speed limit on Motorways and 40mph on A roads.

    Also calculate car tax on the basis of size of engine, emissions and miles driven each year.

    Now that would reduce the amount of CO2 that we produce – of course we would have to sacrifice speed – but that might be the first of many sacrifices.

    1. True, that would be a simple solution. I imagine the outcry would be pretty loud, and I don’t suppose any government would dare! The time might come when those kinds of solutions will be necessary, but at the moment the government is working very hard not to upset the motorists.

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