Green growth: do economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand?

»Green growth is a mistake.«(Jason Hickel, anthropologist)

Other researchers clearly draw an even more critical conclusion with regard to Paris’ climate goals. “The empirical evidence does not support the theory of green growth,” write University of London anthropologist Jason Hickel and economist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​Giorgos Kallis, in a widely acclaimed study. Even if one were to base decoupling solely on carbon dioxide emissions, “it is very unlikely that absolute decoupling will be achieved at a pace fast enough to prevent global warming of more than 1.5 or 2 degrees, even below optimistic political conditions.” researchers: “Green growth is a mistake.” Policy makers urgently need to find alternative strategies.

A scientific debate with real consequences

In this way, the researchers found their way to the political core of the debate. The question of whether decoupling, and therefore green growth, are realistic concepts or not is more than an academic dispute. Many politicians around the world rely on him to achieve their goals. This applies, inter alia, to climate goals, but also a new global framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, to be adopted in December this year. at the World Conference on Nature in Montreal, Canada.

The European post-crown recovery plan, worth € 750 billion and called ‘NextGenerationEU’, also focuses on growth while protecting the climate. Together with the community’s seven-year budget, the fund, the largest-ever economic stimulus program worth almost two trillion euros, aims to create a “greener, more digital and more resilient EU”, the Commission promises. One-third of the money is to go to the “Green Deal”, which is to make economic growth green by the middle of the century.

Separation as a silver ball to make Europe the first climate neutral continent on earth by 2050. Opposition comes from an EU organization, the European Environment Agency (EEA) based in Copenhagen. The specialized body should provide policy makers with scientific recommendations for action. Your word is of great importance in professional circles. In their study published in early December, EEA experts warn against the exclusive fixation of green growth as a way to better climate protection and sustainable development. “However, given nature’s limited ability to provide resources and absorb pollutants, there are doubts as to whether endless economic growth is possible,” they write. Since so much damage to the environment has already been done around the world, it would be necessary to “unprecedented decoupling economic growth from environmental pollution”, they leak their skepticism.

Even if EU experts such as Spangenberg and others have doubts about the feasibility of this separation, none of them are in favor of abandoning the idea altogether. “Striving for as much decoupling as possible can be, for example, a building block to achieving climate goals, but only a small one,” says Spangenberg. “The crisis is so big, we need all the instruments.” And EU experts advise: “These imponderabilies do not mean that Europe should give up its concept of green growth.” more durability is a success. To this end, efforts should be made to redesign the economy in such a way as to ensure the prosperity of society even with decreasing GDP.

“It’s also about recognizing that our standard of living is expressed in what we use every day, not in what we buy new every day.”(Joachim H. Spangenberg, biologist and economist)

The economist Spangenberg also sees the solution in moving away from the focus on growth. It also requires a different social awareness that does not measure welfare solely in terms of consumption. Everyone can contribute to it – says the scientist. “It’s also about recognizing that our standard of living is what we use every day, not what we buy every day,” he says. Therefore, Spangenberg also considers important allegedly minor initiatives, such as the procedure against the built-in deterioration of products after the expiry of the warranty period – the so-called Or rethinking a fashion concept: for example, most cars and most furniture are being phased out and replaced with products that have been produced with high energy consumption and environmental pollution because they are out of style, not because they are no longer available. works or cannot be repaired. “Why does our social prestige depend on having the latest information at home, and not using things for as long as possible?” Asks Spangenberg. Then perhaps the advertising industry would have a problem – on the other hand, the environment and people would have much less problems.

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