Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. Alarmed by the rising difficulties and widespread discontent, the governing authorities decide to do something when new elections start, which begins the second scenario, Panglossy. The new Everstatan government, dependent upon past thinking, decides that a return to economic efficiency through growth is the key to the crisis. Its first measure, to raise the minimum wage, fails to boost growth through consumption. As the new international meeting group for the resilience of the financial system IRESFIS does not show any progress, the ISSIGE, the international fund to promote green growth through infrastructure investment contributes to reinforce the power of the lenders’ nexus and appropriation of public power. Moreover, its results are disappointing: selected projects are insufficient to catch up on late investments, and their impact is too small to bring back growth, to show a change towards sustainability, and to alleviate unemployment. Remains one hope, now vested in the ISSIGE flagship project on air quality.
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Global but unequal fight against air pollution
Air quality is crucial in terms of health and related costs, and a complex challenge as its pollution involves many chemical elements.
Despite efforts, notably within many OECD countries, to struggle against air pollution, air quality remains a severe global problem, all the more so that pollutants travel. Furthermore, much still needs to be done to fully understand the problem and to devise solutions, as detailed by the EPA for black carbon in its chapter on research needs. For example, synthesised global data are still difficult to gather. The array of means used to improve the collection of information, from sensors to satellite image, as exemplified on the US Air Quality: The Smog Blog, and to provide citizens with adequate daily measures and warning on all types of pollutants, as shown for example by the Daily Air Quality Index in the UK, exists, most of the time, only in OECD countries.
In Everstate, as in its neighbouring countries, the fight for air quality must continue and even be reinforced if more and better results are to be observed, especially as pollution does not diminish in other parts of the world, notably in Asia. This is the overall framework for the ISSIGE flagship programme.
The creation of Novstate-Air
Novstate creates a special structure to answer the proposal, called Novstate-Air. It gathers in a friends network covering Everstate and its neighbours, various industries, universities, research laboratories and health institutions, which are all involved at one stage or another in air pollution and air quality, either because their activity and products are potential sources of emissions, because they participate in the design, implementation or monitoring of sensors and models, or because their research or practice is linked to air pollution or to its impact on health.
In early 2014 EVT, Novstate-Air is awarded the ISSIGE contract and the funds. Besides the breadth of the answer, allowed by the variety and number of stakeholders, which thus fits perfectly well the framework programme, the originality of the financial proposal is what determines the ISSIGE to grant the contract to Novstate through Novstate-Air.
Financial boldness rewarded
Novstate-Air underlines first that what stops companies’ efforts towards air quality are the added costs to their products that changes and investments would create, when benefits would not only be delayed but also spread throughout a population that may or may not belong to their clients. Then, it stresses that if the overall effort were to be supported by the state, then the public deficit would increase in the short-term, while benefits, notably in terms of heightened health security and diminished related visible and hidden costs, would only appear in the longer term. Furthermore, it would be difficult to establish a direct link between investments and benefits, which may be unfavourable in terms of promotion and communication.
Novstate-Air thus suggests, to overcome this conundrum, to ask citizens, who are the final beneficiaries, to become directly involved in the effort by paying regularly a small contribution towards air quality. Looking for an analogy, Novstate-Air decides to mimic the way water is delivered and sold to citizens, but adapted to the specificity of air. The alternative was the creation of an indirect air tax, as indirect taxes are a perfect way to collect taxes without creating resentment. The air contribution is chosen over the tax because it allows for the monetization of the service as well as for profits, thus to the involvement of the private sector, which should contribute to growth and economic sustainability, two specific requirements of the ISSIGE.
Monetizing air quality
Novstate-Air, working hand in hand with local administrations will make sure the contribution is calculated fairly, while the data gathered to establish the amount owed by each citizen can be used for research purpose. To mimic at best the water system, Novstate-Air decides to estimate the amount of air breathed by each citizens, according to a specific survey of their activities. This quantity will be revised every trimester. Further research in this field will be conducted to confirm previous findings according to age and gender. Finally, the air contribution will be calculated according to the liters of air used by each family during one trimester. The contributions will be used to finance research, update sensors and all monitoring activities and to help private companies improve their emissions. In the name of transparency, activities and achievements will be given to each family, emphasising notably the improvement of air quality in their environment and the impact on their health.
Thou shalt be surprised…
By 2015, Novstate-Air is able to provide citizens with a preliminary factsheet on the status of their air quality, to start gathering data and, thanks to the use of internet-based facilities, to almost immediately collect contributions nationwide.
Novstate-Air and its network of associated bodies, the ISSIGE and Everstate’s government expect a strong positive reaction. They are thus extremely surprised when, on the contrary, a wave of outrage sweeps over the country, supported by Occupy Everstate, Anonymous, and various unions.
Adams, William C., Research Note 94-11: Topic = How Much Air Do We Breathe? California Environmental Protection Agency, 1994.
Dupré, Franck, “Pollution : le diesel, un danger mortel ?” Autonews.fr, 29 Mars 2012.
Durden, Tyler, The Benefits Of A College Education, Zerohedge, 05/21/2012, from Jed Graham, New Normal: Majority Of Unemployed Attended College, IBD, 05/17/2012.
EPA, Black Carbon Report to Congress, March 2012.
European Environment Agency, Chapter 4. Nitrogen emissions and threats to biodiversity, Environmental indicator report 2012 – Ecosystem resilience and resource efficiency in a green economy in Europe, Part 2. 2012.
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WHO, Air quality and health, Fact sheet N°313, Updated September 2011.