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可持续发展的“禁区”

面对越来越温暖的气候,富裕国家应该改变消费方式还是减少购买?贫穷国家是否也能采取同样的措施?伊莎贝尔•希尔顿为此采访了乔纳森•波利特。
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伊莎贝尔·希尔顿(以下简称希):如果打算遵循可持续以及合乎道德的生活方式,你会做些什么呢?

乔纳森·波利特(以下简称波):别说在中国,就是在英国这也是个大问题。中国现在有两三百万人正在追求类似于西方中产阶级的生活方式,对其中的大多数来说,他们对什么样的消费是更加可持续的肯定没有兴趣。很不幸,中国的可持续发展的主要推动力来自中央政府,而不是地方或者各省,这令其变得十分困难。要鼓舞城市居民可持续消费的热情,是一项很艰巨的工作。物质主义还处在上升阶段,他们觉得改善就是一切。让他们进行可持续性消费,他们会觉得刚刚才爬上了改善生活的梯子,却有人打算让他们放慢速度、换个方式,而且无法得到我们当年那么多的享受。这样的买卖肯定很难做成。

希:但是这就是可持续消费所要传达的信息?发展中国家的人们必须放慢改善生活的速度吗?

波:当然,关于这一点的争论很激烈。有些人认为我们所要做的就是更加负责、更加道德、更加可持续也更加敏感地消费,寻求一种在方法或者数量上没有任何质疑的消费方式。他们认为我们只需要改变消费方式,而不必改变数量。

另一些人的观点则刚好相反,他们认为上面的意见完全是废话:到本世纪末,地球上的人口将达到90亿,如果都按照西方的方式消费,无论多么道德、多么环保、多么敏感,地球也会崩溃。他们想要把减少消费的概念引入政治讨论中来,但是,世界上任何地方的任何主流政党都不会让他们的政治语言中出现“减少”这个词,这是一个无法跨越一步的“禁区”。因此,你听到的只是一个关于表面形式的对话,而制度的核心不会发生任何变化。

对中国的政治家来说, “减少”这个可怕的词汇也是不可思议的。试想,那些刚刚开始消费,过上舒服日子的人们,你却告诉他们一切都太晚了,他们不能再对生活进行任何改善,这真的是一件极为困难的事情,你不可能不产生一点点同情。因此,很不幸,只要富裕国家不表现出非常坚定的态度来约束他们的经济,我们就不能够要求印度或者中国——以及世界上其他贫穷国家减少消费,这就是政治的现实。首先,这意味着富裕国家要缩减经济中的碳浓度,这是对经济整体进行约束的象征,还要大大减小经济的社会和环境影响。当我们能够严肃对待这个问题的时候,才有可能和中国、印度就在这些国家减少消费展开对话。

现在,我们只能对中国说:“更加明智地消费”。因为有观点认为中国应该能够建立一个新的消费范式,不再重走西方国家大规模浪费、破坏和低效发展的老路。上述说法正是对这种理念的呼应。我们已经得出结论,认为老的发展方式极为愚蠢,必须大大提高能源和资源的利用效率。中国根本不必全盘重复这种既浪费又破坏的增长方式,中国人民有可能实现终极目标,即在改善人们生活的同时又能大大降低能源消费。

比如,现在中国多数政治家似乎都在拼命建设公路基础设施,特别是北京。对此,一种明智的做法是建设一个先进的交通基础设施,其基础不是个人拥有汽车。但至今我们还没发现哪个地方采取了这种做法。现在的北京,如果你没有一辆车的话,就什么都不是。

希:如果无法在中国呼吁减少消费的话,在英国是不是会好一点?

波:是的,至少我们在英国已经掀起了一场讨论。对于任何可能暗示着传统增长方式处境危险的事物,政治家们都会非常紧张,所以这件事还是非常非常困难。如果你暗示说我们不能永远都依靠2%到3%的经济增长,那么政治家们干脆理都不会理你。我们为政府进行经济咨询工作,试图采取不同的措施使得经济产生更多的可持续效果,我们可以调动宏观因素,比如财政改革、或者政府采用不同调节干预手段和市场信号等。但是如果你提到重新考虑经济增长方式的话,他们就不想听了。我们所提倡的消费观念只能是在大大减少资源和能源消耗的同时,为人们提供更高质量的生活。在这种模式下,英国的政治家的态度越来越严肃了,但还有一个痛苦的过程要经历。

希:即使这和个人有关,个人也没有什么可做的了,是吗?

波:不是,正因为政府的行动如此缓慢,才会有这么多事情需要个人和产业界去做。比如,大型零售企业突然之间在环境变化问题上变得十分积极,把政府远远甩在后面。产业界赢得了主导权,这让政府既高兴又焦虑,因为突然之间他们无法确定自己是否能调整好变化的步伐。随着产业界掌握了主导权,个人消费者就能发挥很大作用。此外,我不相信有谁会幼稚到认为政府自己将置身事外。如果公民不买账的话,政府的行动只能白搭。我们的政府现在正在思考交流和宣传运动,考虑如何与NGO、专业团体还有产业界合作,以更有效地传递相关信息。他们推出了一个新的运动,称为“对二氧化碳采取行动”(Act on CO2),努力说服个人减少他们的碳足迹。

希:但是在这方面政府是落在人们后面的。

波:当然是这样。最近我们可持续发展委员会发表了政府可持续发展年度评估,这份报告中包含了11项政府必须改进自身行为的目标。结果令人震惊,有5个部门没有进步,反而倒退了。尽管都很重视气候变化,但大多数的部门都没有达到他们的二氧化碳减排目标。如果这是一个私有企业的报告,就会有人被解雇了。在我看来,这真的很可耻。政府在气候变化上获得了那么大的支持,冠冕堂皇地宣扬采取行动有多么重要,但它自己却连最基本的事情都做不到。

希:所以你们公布了“羞耻”清单。

波:是的,但是用一种委婉的方式,这你能够想象。

 

注:乔纳森·波利特,未来论坛(Forum for the Future)的创建者和英国可持续发展委员会的主席,这是一个独立的监察组织,旨在监督环境友好发展在政府政策中的贯彻。

伊莎贝尔·希尔顿,中外对话主编。 

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匿名 | Anonymous

西方消费是可持续性发展的吗?

从国内角度来看,西方消费似乎是可持续性的,但其实他们是在使用海外资源,尤其是那些来自发展中国家的资源。

但实际上西方的消费是一种浪费性并危害环境的方式。

你只需要到西方国家的超市看一看,你就能理解我的观点。在那里,大部分产品都是飘扬过海从海外运送过来的。这些产品还有过度包装的问题。

如今这个时代,我在英国很难买到一件“英格兰制造”的礼品给我在中国的朋友。

全球化的经济在制约着可持续的消费。 可持续的消费是一个全球问题,特别是一个全球的政治和经济范畴的问题。每个国家对推动可持续消费方式都有责任。

不只是中国,印度和其它发展中国家有责任来在全球推动可持续消费。

Does the West consume sustainably?

Demestically, the West seems to consume sustainably, because they are using overseas sources, especially those in developing countries.

But internationally, the West's consumption style is wasteful and detrimental to the environment.

You just need to go to supermarkets in the West, you will know what I mean. Most products are shipped across the world to feed their needs. Excessive packaging is also a problem of products sold in the supermarkets.

Nowadays, it is so difficult for me to buy a "made-in-Engand" gift for my friends in China.

Globalization is checking sustainable consumption.

Sustainable consumption is a global issue, especially in political and economic categories. Every country is responsible for it.

China and India and other developing countries are not the only nations to should the responsibilities to promote sustainable consumption.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

发达国家的问题

发达国家的问题之一是他们的消费方式日益成为发展中国家的人们所崇尚。如果发达国家的人们能改变自己不环保的消费方式,也许发展中国家的“崇洋媚外”将会变得有积极意义。

The problem of developed countries

There is a problems that people in developing countries are moving into the purchasing parity with those of the developed countries. If people in rich countries stop their non-sustainable consumption, maybe the worship will make some positive sense.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

更加明智地消费

减少消费在正在发展中的中国似乎的确是不可能的。但是只要不断朝着提高公众环境意识的方向走,我想还是会有越来越多的人更加明智的消费的。就像少用购物塑料袋、不用非降解一次性餐具、尽量购买能循环使用的商品、甚至不购买汽车等等,这都是可以实现的。
只是,在中国,只有各种环保NGO和中央政府的呼声,这太微弱了,但有总比没有强,还是有越来越多的人在关注自身的行为对环境的影响了,这是个好的现象。
最后,还有个不明白的地方,为什么中国要将进入汽车时代看成是经济发展的表现,为什么各省份城市非要比拼城市拥有的汽车数量,而不是告诉市民,一个城市按照环境承载力只能拥有多少汽车呢?
就像上文所说的,为什么不改善城市交通基础设施而是拼命的建设公路基础设施呢?
Juliet

Shop smarter

Reducing consumption seems impossible while China develops. But as we move towards a more environmentally aware mindset, more people will shop smarter. Like using less plastic shopping bags, not using non-biodegradable disposable cutlery, try to buy more recyclable products, even not buying a car. These are all achievable. The only thing is -- the calls for awareness are too weak and only limited to environmental NGOs and governemtn. That being said, it is better than nothing and more people are becoming conscious of their impact on the environment, this is a positive trend. There is one thing I don't understand, why must China see cars as a sign of economic progress, why must all cities compare with each other how many cars there are, but not telling citizens there is a limit on the number of cars? Like the above article, why not improve urban public transport -- instead of racing to build road infrastructure? Juliet

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

经济的发展不是我们的敌人

本文提醒了大家这样一个事实,高福利的生活是每个人的追求,即使那些沉溺于放纵物质主义的人同样希望最大化他们的福利生活。放纵的物质主义正在破坏我们的赖以生活的空间,而我们却该在那里寻求我们的福利,同时不使其变为无尽的消费圈。更多的福利更少资源消耗是一个伟大的目标,但是我们该谨慎些,不要认为这些目标就是体系的核心。
该体系就是“机械化”的社会,其的建立是为完成其自身的目标,它的主要部分是用以有效配置资源满足人们需求的的经济。Jonathon 先生准确的洞悉到当政治家们用物资来解释人们的需要时他们就不惜以牺牲地球和人们的代价来终止经济的优先增长。然而,我们无法通过让政治家们关切人们需求多于经济优先发展的办法来改变这个体系。正如就Jonathon先生指出,这是很幼稚的,“政治家们根本就不想和你谈论这些”。改变体系意味着对经济构架乱改一气,想象一下,经济是否真的有效地配置了资源,又利用这些资源关切的满足了人们的需求而不是把它们当作废品倾倒于环境中?所有这样的经济活动将会算进有效反应福利及可持续发展目标的国内生产总值中。所有用来处理气候改变及其他问题以市场为导向的投资都会增加GDP并促进经济的增长,对此政治家们当然会引以为傲了。经济的增长将不会是我们的敌人。
另一方面,试想体系并没有变革,市场机制没有变革,每个人关注经济增长的方法和福利。人们可能会试着限制非可持续经济的发展而不是巩固它。也许我们会愚蠢的认为限制二氧化碳扩散的唯一法门就是限制整个经济的增长,但却忽略了这样的事实,用以替代石油燃料的方法可能花费更大,并且变革中大规模的社会投资(从土建到能源基础设施的搬运)还将增加经济活动而不是减少它。由于忽略了经济组织的基本变革,我们就不能长久地保证经济以2—3%的速率稳定增长。而能保证的却是整个生态,社会,经济的崩溃,这时经济增长的概念是没有任何意义的。唯一不能确定的是哪个系统先崩溃,哪个全球问题何时导致了这个崩溃。
通过财政改革,中国实行循环经济这一国策对于巩固这种机械化的体系来说是一个很好的依据。这意味着修正价格来鼓励可持续性经济活动,停止对产生问题经济活动的投资进而转向投资可解决问题的经济活动。几十年来,政府已对像填埋空间,无铅燃料等问题实施了财政改革。然而,从没有听说政府承认气候改变和可持续性发展是不可分的—非可持续性发展的世界存在稳定的气候是天方夜谭。如果可持续性发展真的实现了(毕竟这些年来我们一直在谈论它),那么它一定是通过整个经济的运行而不是政府干预来实施的。政府只能针对少数几项问题进行财政改革,因为在西方经济学中任何大规模的财政改革都被认为是集权的计划经济。因此可持续的财政改革只存在于市场中,政府的角色是来规范和监控,而不是在手中赚着资金。这样税收对财政改革来说就不再合适,事实上现有的所有经济手段都不合适,我们不该对此感到惊奇。但如果我们已经有了有效的经济工具的话,恐怕人们早就开始使用它们了。
可以想想其他的改革手段,www.blindspot.org.uk描述了其中的一例。或许发达国家该区重新思考下他们由来已久的传统。在被相信之前我们拭目以待。然而其他国家不需要等着西方国家,生态急需改善并有高创新能力的国家定会避免西方国家曾犯下的错误,引领全球的可持续性循环经济潮流。
James Greyson

economic growth is not the enemy

This article is a great reminder that everyone's goal is really well-being. Even those who devote their lives to mindless materialism are still hoping (in vain) to maximise their well-being. Mindless materialism really is wrecking the planet and the globally we really do need to learn to seek well-being directly, without being diverted into an endless cycle of consumption. More well-being and less consumerism are great goals but we should be really careful not to believe that goals are "the core of the system".

The system is the 'machinery' society sets up to achieve its goals, of which the main part is economics - intended to efficiently distribute resources to meet people's needs. Sir Jonathon rightly observes that when politicians interpret peoples needs in material terms then they end up prioritising economic growth at the expense of both the planet and people. However we can't change the system by asking politicians to understand people's needs more and prioritising growth less. That would be naïve - as Jonathon points out, "politicians just do not want to talk to you". Changing the system means tinkering with the machinery of economics. Imagine if economics really did distribute resources efficiently; applying them to more carefully to meeting people's actual needs without dumping them as wastes in the land, air and water? All this economic activity would add up into national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) accounts that would align fairly well with well-being and sustainability goals. All the market-driven investments made to deal with climate change and other problems would add to GDP and boost economic growth figures, of which politicians could rightly take pride. Economic growth would not be the enemy.

On the other hand suppose the system is not changed. Market mechanisms are left unreformed and everyone focuses instead on symptomatic and end-of-pipe measures of growth and well-being. People might try to constrain the unsustainable economy instead of fixing it. We might fool ourselves into thinking that the only way to constrain carbon emissions is to constrain the whole economy, neglecting that alternatives to fossil fuels cost more and that the massive societal investment in change (from lagging lofts to relocalising energy infrastructure) will add to economic activity, not reduce it. By neglecting a basic reform of the machinery of economics, we would not guarantee stable "2 to 3% economic growth forever". We would guarantee a global collapse of ecological, societal and economic systems, in which the whole concept of economic growth would be rendered meaningless. The only uncertainties would be which system will collapse first, which of the many global problems will trigger that collapse and when.

China's national policy of "circular economics" is an excellent basis for fixing the mechanics of the system with fiscal reform. This means correcting prices to encourage more sustainable activities, ideally by transferring a premium on problematic activities to subsidise problem-preventing activities. Governments have tinkered with fiscal reform for decades for targeted problems, such as landfill space or unleaded fuels. However you never hear governments admit that climate change and sustainable development are indivisible - a stable climate in an otherwise unsustainable world is a fantasy. And if sustainable development really needs to happen (after all these decades of talking about it) then it must be implemented throughout the whole economy, not with a patchwork of targeted governmental interventions. Government is not capable of more than a few minor targeted fiscal reforms since any attempt in Western economies at a broad fiscal reform would be fatally labelled as central planning. Hence sustainable fiscal reform belongs within the market and government's role is to legislate and monitor it, not to handle the funds. Thus taxation is an unsuitable instrument for fiscal reform. In fact all the existing economic instruments are unsuitable, which should be no surprise. If we had the right tools then someone would have thought to use them by now.

Other tools for reform can be developed; one of them is described at www.blindspot.org.uk. There is a clear role for national sustainability watchdogs to promote debate about new instruments and approaches. Perhaps it is possible for "developed" countries to rethink their long-established conventions. That remains to be seen before it should be believed. However there is no need for other countries to wait for the West. Nations with a pressing need for ecological improvement and a high capacity for innovation could find themselves quickly leap-frogging the errors of the West and leading a global movement for sustainable circular economics.
James Greyson