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18.05.2014
People, Place & Policy Online: Ecolocalisation as an urban strategy in the context of resource constraint and climate change - a (dangerous) new protectionism? Ecolocalisation as an urban strategy in the context of resource constraint and climate change – a (dangerous) new protectionism?
This article critically engages with eco-localisation as an alternative economic development strategy in an era of climate change and resource depletion. This article engages with an emerging conceptionalisation of local economic development policy which has been developed by greens and others centred on economic localisation.
Localisation means that lower standards, fuel consumed and emissions embodied in transport should be taken fully into consideration in location decisions, and that this might change the calculus around where things are produced. I was in an event organised by this putative movement in the city that Place, People and Policy online is edited from, Sheffield. Supporters of the conventional local economic development paradigm would not accept localisation as a serious approach to securing the economic welfare of our cities.
Neoliberals argue that trade even benefits similarly endowed countries, regions and cities trading similar goods and services with each other. Of course proponents of the current local economic development paradigm accept there is a downside to insertion into the global economy. But, for the WTO, if local governments listen to the losers, who may just fear change, they will make the wrong choices. Consequently, localisation is seen as at best misguided or backward, at worst it is outlawed by WTO rules. As our nations carry out this plan we must ensure the actions of one country do not contradict or undermine the actions of another. Of course it is not just neoliberals who argue this: advocates of fair trade argue that the promise of global integration should be made real for the global South by the North opening its markets to South, with goods receiving a fair price and produced under good labour and environmental conditions.
Free and Fair trade advocates would see this as a rather romantic vision of an idealised Rousseauvian, uncorrupted and bucolic rural global South that occludes the local tyrannies, grinding poverty and backbreaking work associated with subsistence economies. Some of the neoliberal and pro-global critiques are stronger than others, and may have more validity as critiques of stronger than weaker versions of localisation: but they are all problematic.
Second, neoliberal critics of localisation conflate it with autarky – we will all end up like North Korea or Myanmar. Thirdly, neoliberal critics overstate benefits of unregulated free trade based on theoretical modelling rather than observable experience.
The localisation debate is about what should be produced where, given the need to balance arguments that larger markets do lead to efficiencies, more consumer choice and cheaper goods, and the right of poor countries to trade their way to prosperity (not through openness, but with some protection and with government intervention) with the need to reduce transport costs to limit CO2 emissions and respond to peak oil.
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Abraham sarah word search puzzles - dltk-bible., Printable word search puzzles with bible themes. The article argues that arguments, advanced by environmentalists and climate change activists, that we need to refocus local economic development away from insertion into the global division of labour and towards ways to minimise carbon emissions and fuel consumption by producing as much of what we need as locally as we can have merit in the context of climate change. Cities must insert themselves into a global division of labour, providing infrastructure and making sure that urban administration facilitates the needs of business. A successful reinvention of the urban imaginary without change on the ground would just displace poverty, a lack of jobs and enterprise, poor health and education outcomes in the public imagination (Mooney, 2004). The credit crunch does, at a simplistic level, suggest that urban growth needs to be reignited.
If one country cannot undercut another with lower standards, subsidised with cheap oil and with the emissions embodied in moving any given product from where it is produced to where it is consumed, then currently cheap imports might become more expensive.
Local economic development policy has long looked to strengthen local skills and capacities, develop local businesses and local sourcing, and support credit unions, local exchange trading schemes, community businesses and the like (Imbroscio, 1997; DeFilippis, 2004).
First, they would argue, it flies in the face of two centuries of what we think we know about how free trade brings many development benefits through global integration (Wolf, 2004: 194-9).


This is demonstrated by the success of nineteenth century Britain, or the twentieth century East Asian Export-Orientated Economies, but the same benefits can even be shown to accrue to cities. Through trade starting with comparative advantage, economies tend to become more uniform as the economies of scale that tend to support agglomeration is balanced by consumers’ love of variety which tends to support a wider range of competing firms.
Since the repeal of the Corn Laws in the UK in 1846 it has been axiomatic that free trade is good, and that attempts at protection limit wealth generation and are counter-productive. Many local economies are not rich enough to meet their own needs, given poor climate and resources.
The South has a right to development, even in a globally constrained world, and should not be expected to pay the price for problems caused by high mass consumption in the global North (Baer, Atanasiou et al., 2007).
In contrast, localiser Richard Douthwaite (1996: 8) argues surely there can be a middle way lying between the extremes of almost complete self-sufficiency on one hand and near total-reliance on supplies and welfare payments from the outside world on the other? It is a fundamental change from the paradigm that has guided local economic development policy since Gerald Ford’s refusal to bail out New York City in 1975. This elegant calendar with chic illustrations includes large monthly grids to mark your schedule. John Lovering (1995) famously argued that all entrepreneurialism generated was a range of vacuous mission statements about place that could not be differentiated from each other (Griffiths 1998). Much of his keynote address was an argument for local action on climate change under the guise of a Green New Deal. I agree that the benefits of international trade are often assumed rather than demonstrated, and agree that as a result of climate change local economic policy needs to move away from an emphasis on inserting our cities into a global market.
The arguments have recently been pulled together by the World Trade Organisations World Trade Report (WTO, 2008).
Economies of scale leads to larger units, love of variety supports diversity, and the two processes balance each other out. But overall, they argue, Shumperterian creative destruction boosts efficiency and competition. Thus even at the height of the global financial crisis of September and October 2008, George W. Writing at the height of free market euphoria, and before the international financial crisis beginning in mid-2007, Wolf asserted that arguments for localisation are a cover for arguments for regulation, made by those who have lost the global economic battle of ideas. How do you get goods that will not fit local climatic conditions or are not produced locally? They claim that localisation in the South would mean greater living standards by meeting basic needs, and that in the longer run it would lead to more diverse livelihood opportunities than economic and ecological monocultures created by focussing on exports. The solution is not to try and set things in aspic, but build the capabilities of people in the global South to be resilient in the face of change and take advantage of changing, kaleidoscopic comparative advantage whereby opportunities change over time (Bhagwati, 1998). In Honduras, COMAL is a network of 46 small co-operative producers and 30,000 consumers providing for basic needs locally, in opposition to the planned FTAA3. It has been axiomatic that cities cannot assume that economic welfare will come to them – they need to create it, through engagement with a global economy based on free trade and the global division of labour, and subsidised by cheap fuel and uncounted carbon emissions.
Every page has large pockets for keeping special notes, coupons and other items to make life easy. Consequently, arguments for localisation lack credibility in local economic development circles.
But critics from the Green movement have increasingly developed a powerful critique of growth-based urbanism, arguing that it leads to unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions and is dependent on resources that are being unsustainably depleted.
This does not mean there would be a customs post on the entrance to every city, with local economies becoming closed, North Korea-like systems. We do need to cut emissions, and long term, the price of oil might make some global connections less economic. Classical free market political economy holds that trade enhances wealth, while barriers limit growth. The result is more trade between similar goods (Germany exporting Volkswagens to France and France exporting Renaults to Germany).


The gains from the winners will outweigh the short term losses, and there should be ways to help the losers adjust. Concerns about climate change and peak oil are used to argue for the re-regulation of  free markets and the re-introduction of the forms of planning that the collapse of socialism in 1989 should have consigned to the dustbin of history.
They are arguing for the full costs and benefits of producing any given good and transporting it to market to be made transparent, with the result, they argue, that more will be produced locally than at present. Localisation would cut the poor off from the ability to get what they need from wealthier regions through trade and redistribution. Local economies in the global South might also find that they too are better off if they meet more of their needs locally and build local economies that are more resilient than the monocultures global trade can produce. The response of the autarkic nationalist Myanmar military government to the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in 2008 must graphically show the limits of autarkic localisation – at the very least some connection is required for aid to flow. Stronger arguments for localisation are required, as well as local experimentation in strategies that put carbon reduction at their heart.
Green councillors, Transition Towns, Climate Reduction Action Groups and Climate Action groups are all developing calls for a new urbanism that will contribute to cuts of in 80 per cent of carbon emissions, and reduce dependency on the hydrocarbons that contribute to global warming. It would mean any given local economy would try to provide as much of its food, power, face-to-face services and small scale manufacturing as it could, with larger scale manufacturing going on firstly at a regional level, then a national level, then in groups of countries. The building industry is in deep recession, cuts in interest rates and VAT seem to have little effect, but we could, if we did it right, upgrade our cities for climate change and provide work. Protection distorts the economy by diverting resources into inefficient protected areas when they may be better utilised in more efficient areas where the country has comparative advantage (Stiglitz and Charlton 2005:6). The WTO argues that the overall benefits of globalisation may mean little to those who lose their jobs, especially those who are poorly trained and the poor. Yes, it might currently be in Kenya’s interest to supply the global North with cut flowers, and it may be that CO2 emissions are lower producing them under the Kenyan sun than in a heated greenhouse in the Netherlands. Chang (2007) shows how the currently global rich industrialised behind trade barriers, as well as through acquiring resources and destroying potential competition through imperialism. Hopefully this short article has contributed to the development of stronger arguments for more localised economic development policies that will strengthen local production for local needs, cutting out avoidable emissions, using less oil, and not built on lower environmental and labour standards in places far away, out of sight. If the definition of unjust unsustainability is New Orleans where you lived or died depending on your access to a car, or Paris where older people died left alone in flats superheated by the output of other people’s air conditioning, socially just adaptation would be collective, not individual. This article therefore discusses what the conventional local economic development paradigm would say about calls for localisation, in an effort to provide a more persuasive case for producing more of the things we need as locally as we can, to reduce emissions and dependency on limited oil supplies. Trade enables businesses to gain access to a wider resource pool from which to draw human and financial capital, ideas, innovations and knowledge, and to wider markets and more sales. The benefits and costs of globalisation have not been evenly distributed, and there are understandable reasons for opposing it.
Localisers argue that the global division of labour associated with neoliberal globalisation leads to the destruction of (mainly manufacturing) livelihoods in the global North through competition with goods and services produced in places with lower labour or environmental standards in the global South, while in the global South rural livelihoods are destroyed by the dumping of subsidised EU or US agricultural produce (Norberg-Hodge, 2001).
But this also means that Kenya’s environment is destroyed by a flower producing monoculture which depletes water resources, while Kenya also becomes vulnerable to changes in flower-buying preferences in the global North, and how has to import grain to feed itself (again making it vulnerable to changing prices). This leads to larger productive units that can benefit from economies of scale, invest more in research and development, and thus provide more goods at a greater variety and volume and at lower cost. Economic activity can concentrate in certain locations, and this process can become self-reinforcing leading to agglomeration in some places and deindustrialisation in others. Murudian and Martinez-Alier (2001) see trade as an unequal ecological relationship in which potentially ecologically valuable resources are transferred to the global North at a price that does not reflect their potential, only for the energy embodied in them to be utilised in the North, with the benefits accruing to the North. Some places are key parts of networks - even some remote places – while other places are shut out of them.



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