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Recent empirical work sheds some light on the importance, form and consequences of complementarities between information and communication technology (ICT) and organizational design. We conclude from this research that (1) complementarities between organization and ICT maybe so strong that absent organizational changes, ICT may have a negligible effect on productivity; (2) different types of ICT require different changes in organizational design; (3) the evidence also suggests that changes in organization enhance the impact of ICT on wage inequality. Source

Although urban women generally enjoy some advantages over their rural counterparts, a range of gender inequalities and injustices persist in urban areas that constrain their engagement in the labour market and in informal enterprises and inhibit the development of capabilities among younger women. These include unequal access to decent work, human capital acquisition, financial and physical assets, intra-urban mobility, personal safety and security, and representation in formal structures of urban governance. But the nature of these varies for different groups of women, not only on account of poverty status and where they live in the city, but also according to age, household characteristics, degree of engagement in income-generating activities and so on. This paper reviews what we have learnt from the literature on gender and urban development. It discusses disparities in access to education and vocational training and to land and housing ownership through a "gender lens". It considers service deficiencies and associated time burdens, which limit income generation among women. Violence and gender, and gender divisions in access to different spaces within the city and in engagement in urban politics, are also covered. These factors cast doubt on whether women's contributions to the prosperity often associated with urbanization are matched by commensurate returns and benefits. © 2013 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Source

Mingers J.,University of Kent | Willcocks L.,LSE
Information and Organization

The paper argues that semiotics, the theory of signs and symbols, is at the heart of the representation and transmission of information and meaning, and is thus central to communication and information systems, but especially in their contemporary, more virtualized forms. The paper is distinctive in eschewing post-structuralist uses of Saussurian semiotics, and recent theorizations of sociomateriality, instead developing an integrative framework grounded in Habermasian concepts, Peirceian semiotics and an underlying, integrating critical realist philosophy. We develop a semiotic framework to help analyze the complex interactions between three different worlds - the personal, the social and the material. Here semiosis relates to the personal world through the generation and interpretation of signs and messages. It relates to the material world in that all signs must have some form of physical embodiment in order to be signs, and must also be transmitted through some form of physical media. Semiosis relates to the social world in that the connotive aspects of sign systems are social rather than individual - they exist before and beyond the individual's use of signs. The personal, social and material worlds between them bear relationships of sociation, sociomateriality and embodiment. The framework draws on fundamental concepts of information, meaning and embodied cognition. The paper examines critically the implications of this formulation for studying information systems. It discusses commonalities with and departures from other studies, illustrates points with empirical examples, and details how the integrative framework can be utilized. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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Originally published on the World Resources Institute blog. By and On Friday, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report joined a series of studies released over the past few weeks assessing how much countries’ recent climate change announcements, or intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs),contribute to combating warming. Collectively, the studies make it clear that the INDCs make a substantial contribution to bending the global emissions trajectory below our current path. However, the studies also show that without additional action, the INDCs are insufficient to limit warming to below 2°C and avoid some of the worst climate impacts. The details of the Paris Agreement are, therefore, very important to help achieve an additional bending of the emissions trajectory before 2020, to support the implementation of the INDCs and to ensure greater ambition after 2030. While all of the studies support these general conclusions, their numbers differ both in terms of projected temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels, as well as emissions levels in 2025 and 2030. Below we discuss the results of various studies assessing the INDCs and highlight differences among their underlying assumptions, which can help explain why some details of their findings diverge. The studies include those by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), Australian-German Climate and Energy College (CEC), Climate Interactive, Danish Energy Agency (DEA), European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC), the International Energy Agency (IEA), London School of Economics (LSE), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MILES Project Consortium (MILES), PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the UNFCCC, and the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, which is itself an in-depth assessment of many of these studies. Some of these studies may still be updated after this blog is published. Most studies compare global emissions pathways resulting from the INDCs to one or more alternative scenarios without the INDCs. These alternative scenarios include emissions under “business as usual” (typically defined as no new climate policy from 2010 onwards), emissions under currently adopted and implemented policies, and emissions assuming that countries’ 2020 pledges are met. The studies find that the INDCs reduce future emissions relative to these scenarios. The studies also find, however, that the INDCs do not reduce emissions sufficiently to limit warming to below 2 degrees C. Some of the studies model global temperature change under the INDCs out to 2100, and find that it will be higher than 2 degrees C. Other studies do not model temperature directly, but they still draw conclusions about temperature. They do this by comparing emissions in 2025 and/or 2030 under the INDCs to the levels that would be consistent with limiting warming to below 2C at the least possible cost. Either way, the result is the same — the INDCs are not sufficient. The subset of studies that assess temperature increases suggest that with the INDCs, we will witness 2.7–3.7 degrees C (median chance) of warming compared with pre-industrial levels. This is an improvement over business-as-usual trends, which would lead to 4–5 degrees C of warming, but falls short of the goal to limit warming to below 2 degrees C. Since temperature impacts are calculated out to 2100, the studies’ findings depend significantly on assumptions about what happens to emissions after the target date specified in the INDC  — 2030 for most countries, and 2025 for the United States. Scenarios showing higher temperature increases by 2100, such as Climate Interactive INDC Strict, assume no continued progress after the INDCs are achieved. The scenarios showing lower temperature increases, such as the Climate Action Tracker, assume that mitigation effort of 2020–2030 continues throughout the century. There are also additional scenarios that have been studied by some analysts (e.g. the MILES study’s “Bridge Scenario”) that examine what additional targets and policies would have to be adapted to limit warming to 2 degrees C. All temperature findings are associated with some degree of uncertainty, so analysts use probabilities to frame their results. Two common framings are 50% likelihood, which provides a “toss of the coin” chance that warming will stay within the given temperature, and >66% likelihood, which provides a “likely” chance that warming will stay within the given temperature. The Climate Action Tracker finds a 50% chance that warming will stay within 2.7C, and a >66% chance that it will stay within 3C. Climate Interactive Strict finds that under its INDC Strict scenario there is a 50% chance that warming will be limited to 3.5C. MIT presents three scenarios – the low scenario corresponds to the 5th percentile; the central scenario corresponds to the median, and the high corresponds to the 95th percentile of the probability density function. Given that policy makers should be interested in a higher probability of achieving desired temperature outcomes, more studies should examine what a higher probability of the resulting temperatures from the INDCs are. A higher probability of limiting warming to various temperatures gives much greater confidence that the INDCs will be successful in limiting warming to that temperature. Emissions levels in 2025 and 2030 have significant consequences for our ability to limit warming to 2 degrees C.  The higher emissions are in the near term, the greater the required emissions reductions in later decades for limiting warming. Steep rates of emissions reductions are far costlier than more gradual rates of decline. They also risk of failing to achieve the 2 degrees C target, and rely more on carbon dioxide removal technologies (e.g. bioenergy and carbon capture and storage), which have yet to be proven at scale. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report finds that if emissions levels are above 55 Gt CO2e in 2030, they require 6 percent per year rates of emissions decline between 2030 and 2050 (compared with 3 percent/year in cost-effective scenarios). A 6 percent rate of emissions reductions is unprecedented—emissions reduction rates during the collapse of the Soviet Union led to declines of 2–4 percent annually—and it will be exceedingly difficult to overcome the lock-in of carbon-intensive technologies, while at the same time rapidly scaling up zero and low-carbon energy sources. All studies included in our analysis find that emissions levels in 2025 and 2030 are higher than those consistent with a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C. The emissions levels in the studies range from 51.1-57.2 Gt CO2e in 2025 and 52-61.1 Gt CO2e in 2030. For contrast, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report finds that for a least-cost emissions pathway consistent with a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C, emissions are 48 Gt CO2e in 2025 and 42 Gt CO2e in 2030. Below is a chart showing median values for various studies’ assessments of anticipated emissions levels in 2025 and 2030, given the INDCs. The chart does not include those scenarios assuming mitigation targets and policies that went above and beyond the INDCs, nor does it include the IEA, which reports energy and process-related greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the studies examine multiple scenarios – for example, one scenario might include those pledges that are conditional (for example, on international finance or other support), while another might include only unconditional pledges. Below we describe the differences among multiple scenarios. There are a number of factors that can explain why studies estimate different temperature outcomes and emissions levels. For some countries, estimating future emissions is straightforward, and results in relatively little difference across studies (e.g. those countries that pledge to reduce economy-wide emissions relative to a past year’s emissions). For others, analysts have to make more assumptions (e.g. countries that pledge to reduce emissions per unit of GDP, without specifying expected future GDP growth). The emissions covered by INDCs are then aggregated with projected future emissions from countries, sectors and gases not covered by INDCs. The latter are taken from projections of what future emissions will be under “business as usual” or under current policies. Three factors are largely responsible for these differences: Depending on the timing of the analysis, the number of INDCs analyzed differs. For example, of the studies we looked at, the cut-off dates for including INDCs ranges from mid-August to the end of October 2015. In addition, a number of countries attach conditions (such as international financing or other forms of support) to all or part of their INDCs. Some scenarios include unconditional pledges only, whereas others include both conditional and unconditional pledges. Moreover, some INDCs are not clear about the extent to which they are conditional; in these cases, studies may categorize the same pledge differently with respect to its conditionality. Although the INDCs are more transparent than the Cancun pledges, the variation in studies’ results is in part due to the fact that some countries have not identified an expected emissions level in the future. This is particularly the case for targets that are framed as intensity targets or baseline scenario targets, where projected GDP or baseline scenario emissions are not specified, or targets that set a year to peak emissions and don’t specify the peak emissions level. For example, how China’s emissions trajectory is treated will have a significant impact on global emissions and resulting temperature increase, given that it is responsible for 22% of global emissions. With the exact timing and level of emissions peak is not specified, studies are forced to make assumptions about China’s future emissions levels. In addition, some studies examine China’s intensity target only, while others also examine additional policies and technology transformation, which can lead to additional reductions. Furthermore, given that the Chinese INDC peak year target only covers carbon dioxide, analysts have to make assumptions about the growth rate of non-CO2 gases. In addition, studies rely upon different data sources both for historical emissions as well as projected emissions (which is particularly relevant to the analysis of uncovered sectors and gases, as well as countries that have not submitted an INDC). Official data submitted by countries can vary from international data sources that are harmonized across countries. For instance, we found that 2010 emissions estimates used by various studies ranged from 47-49.5 Gt CO2e. In addition, studies use projections of emissions to estimate future emissions for those countries, sectors and gases not covered by an INDC. The difference between relying on “business as usual” projections versus current policy projections can be significant. Furthermore, some studies use IPCC Second Assessment Report global warming potential (GWP) values while others use Fourth Assessment Report, which can lead to differences in emissions estimates for non-CO2 gases. Also, the way in which emissions reductions and enhanced sinks are accounted for can have an impact on future emissions levels. This is particularly the case for LULUCF accounting. Projections of future emissions and removals in the sector are extremely uncertain, and most countries did not specify their assumed accounting approaches or data sources. The DEA study, for example, finds that differences in accounting rules for LULUCF can increase the emissions gap in 2030 by around 0.8 to 3.4 GtCO2e. One of the most significant factors is likely to be what the studies assume after the target year of the national climate plans, which determines the countries’ post-2025 or post-2030 emissions trajectory. For instance, do actions continue or end after the INDC is completed? Since most INDCs do not specify action after 2030, different scenarios reflect a broader range of assumptions, resulting in divergence in conclusions regarding post-2030 global emissions. The Climate Action Tracker assumes continued emissions reductions in future decades at a level of effort no more, or less, ambitious than that implied by the INDCs. Climate Interactive, on the other hand, assesses multiple scenarios, one in which there is no post-2030 action and several in which there is continued emissions reductions in certain countries to varying extents. The MIT study assumes the proposed cuts from the INDCs are extended through 2100, but not deepened further. In addition, other factors could make a difference, such as assumed implementation of the pledges, variations among the models themselves, treatment of accounting rules, and more. The Paris Agreement can help bend the curve further before 2030 and ensure greater ambition after 2030 by including clear long-term and short-term signals,increasing transparency of INDCs and future cycles of commitments, andadvancing accounting rules governed by strong principles. Additionally it can increase the probability of full implementation through strong provisions on capacity building, finance and technology transfer. In a little less than a month’s time, we have the opportunity to build upon the momentum unleashed by the INDCs and start to close the emissions gap to have a fighting chance of keeping global average temperature below 2 degrees C.    Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

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The parent to the world’s oldest bourse – the London Stock Exchange – recently announced that it became member of the Climate Bonds Initiative. The London Stock Exchange Group finally joined hands with the Climate Bonds Initiative to push ahead with the promotion of green bonds. The first green bond to be listed at LSE was issued by World Bank in 2009; since then, the exchange has attracted some of the leading banks and institutions from the global green bonds market. In 2014, the LSE Group joined the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) listed its first Renminbi-denominated green bond, raising RMB 500 million in the same year. In 2015, the LSE launched a comprehensive range of dedicated green bond segments attracting even more first-time issuers. In August 2015, the IFC listed the first offshore Indian Rupee denominated green bond, raising INR 3.15 billion. In October, the Agricultural Bank of China listed a $1 billion triple tranche, dual currency green bond, the largest green issue on London Stock Exchange’s markets. In total, the London Stock Exchange has attracted 24 ‘self-labelled’ green bonds, raising over $4 billion. Some of the well-known banks, institutions, and companies to have listed green bonds at LSE bourses include International Finance Corporation, Agricultural Bank of China, Transport for London, Unilever PLC, Nordic Investment Bank, Development Bank of Japan, and European Bank of Reconstruction & Development.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

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