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Travel, energy, spending, investment: the four debates at Sustainable September



Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked at the motions being debated at the four evening events taking place in London during Sustainable SeptemberBlue & Green Tomorrow’s month-long celebration of sustainability that readers can reserve their place at before tickets are released later this month.

Venues, dates and speakers will be announced in the coming weeks, as well as for the all-day sustainability conference taking place in the final week of September.

Below is a rundown of the four debates. Remember, you can reserve your place at any of them by filling in your details here.

Travel: Growth in tourism is undesirable: it is rarely economically or environmentally ‘good’

Arguments for: Mass tourism is “utterly unsustainable” according to one tourism expert. Demand for international flights is set to increase, causing even further damage to the environment. And as tourists generally live differently, or more extravagantly, while on their travels, resources like water and energy will become increasingly stressed. Read more.

Arguments against: The economies of many developing world countries, that would otherwise have little industry or employment opportunities, completely depend on tourism. The idea of ‘wise growth’ – growth that acknowledges responsible tourism principles – shows that tourism can play a positive role socially, environmentally and economically. Read more.

Spending: Free trade trumps fair trade in helping developing economies

Arguments for: One commentator called free trade the “greatest aid to real development – and the proven route out of mass poverty”. Conversely, the Adam Smith Institute, in a 2008 paper, said fair trade negatively impacted the economic prosperity of developing world farmers, and didn’t actually help them. Read more.

Arguments against: The charity Action Aid, which campaigns for fair trade, argues free trade leads to “poverty and inequality”. Meanwhile, many argue developing countries are unable to be self-dependent with free trade. Under fair trade, producers are paid fairly, working conditions are better and communities are empowered. Read more.

Energy: Shale gas and nuclear power will address carbon emissions in the immediate term, far more effectively than unproven renewables

Arguments forShale gas is an effective transition fuel, bridging the gap between the present day and the low-carbon future. Getting rid of the highly polluting coal must be a priority, so shale gas – which emits less carbon dioxide than coal – is an obvious and realistic replacement. Read more.

Arguments against: Some climate scientists deplore the fact that governments are going after “yet another fossil fuel” given what we know about climate change. As for nuclear, there are serious questions about safety, waste and proliferation that need to be addressed. Therefore, ploughing investment into technologies like wind, solar and other renewables is by far the most sensible option. Read more.

Investment: The purpose of investment is maximising financial return, nothing else

Arguments forThe view is commonplace in investment and finance. Many industry professionals are of the opinion that there are no moral or ethical considerations when investing, and that investment is not a charity, so should not be treated as such. Read more.

Arguments against: A growing band of investors and financial professionals disagree wholeheartedly with this mantra. It is now not simply accepted that money should be somehow disconnected from the environment or society. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that factoring in sustainability issues actually improves returns. Read more.

While we put the plans together for all five events, why not tell us what you think on social media? Follow Sustainable September on Twitter (@SustSept), Facebook ( and through the dedicated LinkedIn group.

Click here to register your interest for Sustainable September.

Further reading:

Introducing: Sustainable September

What is Sustainable September?

Register now for Sustainable September 2014