Economy vs ecology. New protocol will help make “clean zero” a reality

The new protocol, developed by the University of Stirling, will enable policymakers and businesses to meet targets and reduce future carbon emissions. That said, the new protocol should not hinder the economy by helping to balance the demands of economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion. Details on the development of the Stirling protocol are published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

The Sterling Protocol has three main components that need to be considered for environmental security to be at the center of sustainable economic prosperity.

The newly developed framework can be used to analyze whether decisions are being made:

  • ensure prosperity and promote economic growth that is environmentally sustainable;
  • conserve and improve biodiversity and natural resources, and promote progress towards a carbon-free society;
  • improve health and well-being with maximum social inclusion.

If proposals, policies, or practices fail to meet these criteria equally, steps can be taken to balance competing requirements.

A simple protocol framework can be adopted by organizations to analyze a range of activities, from procurement and recruiting to project planning and business development. The flexibility of the protocol means that it can be used to stimulate and shape the discussion of sustainability issues. Ultimately this will lead to the consideration of new approaches.

Professor Maggie Cusack, Dean of the Faculty of Science, led the study and explained why the new protocol was needed.

It can often seem as though there is a conflict between the need to address climate change and the need for economic growth. When decisions are made, they can often exclude certain segments of the population, and they can also be impractical or cumbersome for small organizations. The flexible approach at the heart of the Sterling Protocol means it can be used by a range of organizations, large and small, to conduct simple, inexpensive performance analysis, leading to more consistent results.

The protocol is particularly timely as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has given policy and business leaders a reason to consider new options for economic recovery.