Politics under Pressure

Most markets are dominated not by sustainability-oriented companies but by unsustainable tax-evading global monopolist conglomerates with a huge negative sustainability impact, including material use, energy consumption, unfree licensing, vendor lock-ins and overall poor working conditions along the supply chain. Sustainability impacts are regularly externalised and, in many countries, fossil resource-based processes are even state subsidised. In effect, producing (electronic) waste is a minor expense as is emitting CO2, while designing devices for reuse, repair and recycling, and paying staff properly currently creates economic disadvantages. Given such circumstances, it is of no surprise that unsustainability thrives. In addition, in all countries, the small wealthy part of the population has the largest sustainability footprint while the large poorer part has a small footprint and very little room for meaningful individual improvements. However, as can be seen in the previous chapters, there are many brilliant ideas and concepts as well as successful projects, available technologies, and existing best practices for sustainable societies. Those ideas span all dimensions, from community tech approaches to sustainable economy designs. But to realise the full potential of those approaches, the social and economic framework conditions have to be changed so that they enable sustainability pathways and remove incentives for harmful practices. Collectively adjusting societal incentives, economic rules and governmental priorities precisely defines the political domain addressed in this chapter: It starts out by illustrating the political demands of the broad Bits & Bäume movement. Lasota and Albers then critically discuss the current EU legislation regarding sustainability and freedom-related aspects of ICT devices. Pohl and Zimmermann turn to the digital infrastructures of data centres and data networks to suggest concrete policy recommendations. Finally, Ramesohl, Wirtz, Gunnemann and Weier explore the concept of digital-ecological statecraft as a regulatory policy orientation and collective facilitation to unleash the creative power of digitalisation.

Rainer Rehak
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