Photo by Martin Sepion

Voluntary Carbon Offsets (VCO) are reaching new peaks (2019 was a record year). In this piece, I reflect on three rarely evoked problems of VCOs. I call them distance, myopia, and extraction. To me, they disqualify VCOs as factors of genuine change and sustained environmental progress. We need to turn our attention at designing alternative instruments that retain the conceptual simplicity of VCOs but avoid their serious drawbacks.

Valerie has to fly from Frankfurt to Hong Kong. The airline will offer her to pay a surcharge that it will use to finance some carbon-reducing activity — say planting trees, for…


Two humble proposals for the primary school of tomorrow

Photo by Johannes Waibel on Unsplash

“We are listening”, “We are glad to receive feedback”, “We understand your needs”. I bet most parents of schooled children have gotten this answer from school managers they queried. And maybe those common acknowledgments are sincere, although occasionally we might perceive behind the principal’s reassuring face the slightest shade of annoyance. But it is a fact that there has been very little change in the way we teach, mirroring the incredibly slow adaptation of school programs and methods in the last 300 years. Think how somebody who had been asleep during the previous 30 years would have serious troubles to…


Another flush of hundredths of billions (printed out of nothing) is being parachuted in Europe. Another opportunity to make a collective effort on sustainability is gone, as fatuously as the endless battle of egos between the two protagonist of the series ‘Billions’

You’ve got to love these meetings between European leaders. You see their exhausted faces in the evening news, as if they were working harder than miners. You hear their unflappable and unqualified determination never to compromise. You imagine them in heated overnight meetings (this sounds weird, but it is not what you think). And then, — not before they break another record for the longest European Summit — they emerge smiling, bumping each other’s elbows with the miraculous compromise in their hands. Once back home, they invariably present the outcome as a great victory for their country and the spirit…


A fairy tale for adults to keep them awake

by Chiara mulan silipo and Luca Silipo

When Anna, my daughter, was small, she used to say: “Mama, please tell me a story… the one with the penguin, pleeeeeeeaaaaase”. Here it is, exactly how I used to tell her.

Once upon a time, when I was as little as you, there was an odd bird, called Nami. She was a penguin. Those were strange birds with no wings, covered with beautiful black and white feathers.

Penguins don’t exist anymore, but at that time they lived in a faraway continent, down South…


Photo by Samuel Branch on Unsplash

Yesterday, was Independence day in America, the land of opportunities.

An America where Bezos is hailed as a hero, instead women and men couriers who, in the midst of the pandemic’s rage, jerked as flipper balls from house to house to bring us groceries and make us feel more secure.

An America where the stellar sums paid by citizens to insure their health are redistributed within the narrow circle of insurance and pharmaceutical companies shareholders, while nurses and doctors struggle for more than 12 hours a day being paid barely higher than the average wage.

An America where the dejected…


Macron and Merkel jointly declared that they want the EU to be better prepared for the next pandemic… can we finish this one, first?

George W. Bush declared victory only two months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The war continued for years after that, claiming the lives of of more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers, the great majority of them after Bush’s speech on board of the USS Abraham Lincoln, on May 1, 2003.

Grave mistakes have been done by authorities at the onset of the COVID crisis and even more consequential errors are being done today. This completes the picture of the total inadequacy of our Western democracies, in particular Europe, to react efficiently to a catastrophic event. Instead of congratulating each other, the leaders of the old-world (and others) would better serve their constituencies realising this failure and proposing democratic amendments to it. Or, maybe, it is asking too much.

We have now proven that COVID-19 has been with us for much longer than we thought. Who knows what information the secret…


Pandemic-hit countries were faced with a choice. But that choice had big consequences.

According to the WHO, the COVID-19 outbreak is the worst pandemic of our modern times. Country after country seems to be falling under its grip.

As the virus spreads, we see their various responses: going into total lockdown, staying open with fingers crossed, relying on citizens to keep the virus at bay, using government powers to the full, or, in the case of Turkmenistan, denying that the outbreak even exists.

But let’s look back to the early days, when the “novel coronavirus” was just breaking out. …


We live in a society where people think that posting a black screen on a social media platform is being revolutionary. Wake up!

The pandemic has caused a suspension of our lives. Suddenly, we had time to observe, in an almost out-of-body experience, the society in which we operate our busy lives. Most of us did not like what they see, and some of us thought that this was a jolly good opportunity to hit the reset button and start on new and more solid bases.

As lockdowns are eased in the countries of the second wave (Europe, then, the U.S.), the window of opportunity to induce real change is closing fast. Corporations are shutting down projects and departments that were thinking about…


Photo by Guillermo Latorre on Unsplash

In Europe, together with COVID, there is another endemic condition: everyone is an expert at almost everything.

I still remember the early morning coffees between colleagues, back in the year 2000 in Italy. Then, everyone suddenly turned into an expert of competitive sailing. We all stayed up late, ensconced in our sofas to follow the adventures of Luna Rossa, the Italian yacht runner-up of that year’s America’s Cup. “The skipper should have jibed earlier,” “He should have covered in that windward leg,” “They have an illegal spinnaker pole, that’s why,” “In the left side of the regatta field there is…


I remember the early days of the lockdown when there was a sense that maybe we would emerge out of this as better people, living in a better society. Three months into the start of the pandemic in the West, these thoughts sound so naive.

Let’s be factual. Consider two of the major problems that our society was experiencing pre-COVID: environmental damage and income inequality. The longer it takes to eradicate the virus, the more dramatic and irreversible the acceleration of those two pillars of our society’s decay.

Environment, first. Remember, in the eighteen months before COVID we were witnessing…

Luca Silipo

I am an economist and author dedicated to finding applicable solutions to achieve social sustainability while preserving economic growth.

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