Osborne’s fossil fuel double whammy

In December 2015, the all-important UN climate change conference (COP21) will take place in Paris.  Governments from around the world will then try to come to a new global agreement on curbing carbon emissions. Many think that this will be our last chance to keep temperature increases to below 2 degrees. One would think and hope that a UK government would do all it can to support policies that reduce our addiction to fossil fuels. Not so.

Osborne’s latest budget has extended the freeze on fuel duty increases again, the fourth year in a row he’s done so. At the same time, he’s offered generous tax cuts and investment stimuli for the North Sea oil and gas industry. This is nothing less than a slap in the face to those who are trying hard to come to an agreement in Paris later this year, not to mention the UK’s home-grown renewable energy industry.

Stimulating demand and supply of fossil fuels at the same time is nothing but a cheap, short-term political gag, and has nothing to do with long-term economic, social and environmental stewardship. The UK’s Climate Change Act requires us to take this long-term view, committing successive governments to the goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% compared to the 1990 baseline. Today, Osborne has made it just this little bit harder to achieve that goal.

What is an author, now? Futures of scholarly communication and academic publishing

I look forward to taking part in this exciting looking conference to be held on June 25-26, 2014.

(Chair: Jane Tinkler, LSE)

Roundtable discussion with Steffen Boehm (Essex), Christian Fuchs (Westminster), Gary Hall (Coventry), Paul Kirby (Sussex), Ziyad Marar (SAGE).

We will be talking about the future of academic publishing and the role of the author within today’s neoliberal university system.

How do markets collapse? The techno-politics of the rise and fall of carbon markets

Abstract: The crisis currently facing the market for Certified Emission Reduction credits (CER, also known as carbon credits) is explained commonly by difficulties to do with the expiry of the Kyoto agreement, the overall framework for trading carbon credits. In this paper we challenge the view that the CER market is in crisis only because of political reasons. Using archival material we analyse the accreditation process of carbon offsetting methodologies and explore how the technological discourse surrounding the measurement methods introduced and embedded political vulnerabilities into the organisational structure of the market, vulnerabilities that eventually led to its demise. We develop theory that necessitates technology as part of the explanation of how markets come about and why they fail. Our paper contributes to the literatures in political sociology and economic sociology about the political infrastructures that underpin markets. The paper should provide food for thought for those policy makers who are currently attempting to introduce new climate markets or redesign existing ones.

It’s not just the World Cup Brazilians are protesting about

The World Cup has highlighted Brazil’s dissatisfaction with the mega-development involved in building the tournament’s infrastructure. But the football stadiums are just the latest in a long line of Brazilian mega-developments, including building venues for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Belo Monte Dam and the Cuiaba-Santarem Highway – all of which have caused controversy.

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Censorship in Academic Publishing – we need to act

In my role as member of the International Board of Critical Management Studies, responsible for Publishing, I’d like to point you to an article that has appeared in today’s edition of Times Higher.

The sorry reality is that big, for-profit publishers seem to now think that they can censor our work, as has happened in the case of a specific paper and debate that has now, after months of delays, threats, negotiations, etc, finally been published here.

The piece in question is by Harvie et al, which, in its original form, named and shamed a number of publishers, including Taylor and Francis (Routledge, etc), for dodging taxes and making extraordinary profits on the back of our hard labour. T&F did not like to be exposed in this way, so demanded from the Editor of Prometheus to remove the company names. Also, without consultation, a silly disclaimer has now been added to all pieces published in this debate in this issue (see the responses to the Harvie et al article in this issue).

This is the first time I see this kind of censorship taking place. It should make us think very seriously about our relationship to the publishers we seem to be so dependent on these days. Can they be trusted? So far it’s been a question of them giving us the freedom of what we want to publish, as long as it is high quality and brings in the profits for them (on the back of our free labour). But this episode takes this debate to a whole new level, and we now really need to think very hard about our relationship to the publishers, particularly the big, multinational, for-profit companies, such as Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, Springer, Wiley – and a few others – that make extraordinary profits with our content and labour.

As I say in the Times Higher article today, I think the only way for us to go forward is to have much more control again over the publishing process, taking publishing back in-house, so to say. By either starting new university presses or running journals entirely ourselves (and ideally making them open access).

I think we do have a choice, and in my role as member of the IBCMS I will try to help us moving into the right direction. We need more control over publishing again!

Views, responses, feedback welcome.

Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities

It’s very exciting to see this new book in production:


Abstract: The world faces a ‘perfect storm’ of social and ecological stresses, including climate change, habitat loss, resource degradation and social, economic and cultural change. In order to cope with these, communities are struggling to transition to sustainable ways of living that improve well-being and increase resilience. This book demonstrates how communities in both developed and developing countries are already taking action to maintain or build resilient and sustainable lifestyles. These communities, here designated as ‘Ecocultures’, are exemplars of the art and science of sustainable living. Though they form a diverse group, they organise themselves around several common organising principles including an ethic of care for nature, a respect for community, high ecological knowledge, and a desire to maintain and improve personal and social wellbeing.

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From the Open Road to the High Seas? Piracy, Damnation and Resistance in Academic Consumption of Publishing

Abstract: “”In their Proposition, David Harvie and colleagues develop their earlier work on the political economy of academic publishing (Harvie et al., 2012) to suggest a new avenue of resistance to what is characterized as the highly damaging profiteering of
academic commercial publishers. Following Lenin’s classic revolutionary question, ‘What is to be done?’, Harvie and colleagues explore the options for editors to wrest control of their journals from publishers, taking them to new publishing houses; for example, working with university presses or publishing through a learned society. Harvie and his colleagues discovered that escaping from the grasp of their own journal publisher was harder than they had expected.””

full text available on academia.edu and tandfonline.com

This paper is part of a wider debate on the role of for-profit academic publishing: Prometheus – Critical Studies in Innovation

The Prometheus debate has prompted this Times Higher article: Resignations threat over Taylor & Francis ‘censorship’