Degrowth scholarship embraces technological change and efficiency improvements, to the extent (crucially) that these are empirically feasible, ecologically coherent, and socially just.
Who is still actively defending green growth? There is Alessio Terzi, the author of Growth for Good: Reshaping Capitalism to Save Humanity from Climate Catastrophe (2022). In this article, I want to respond to a number of arguments developed in a chapter titled “Post-Growth Dystopia.”
Incremental change can be tough to accept when you’re trying to prevent mass suffering and extinction, but as Herman Daly and Joshua Farley remind us, we must start “from where we are, even if the basic idea is not to remain there.”
As ecosystems are getting nightmarishly worse, the fable of green growth is acting as a kind of macroeconomic greenwashing, especially when mobilised to discredit other, more radical solutions to the ecological crisis.
The choice to back CDR is conditioned by a desire in society at large to meet net-zero whilst maintaining an economic paradigm and way of life.
Putting negative-emission technologies and the green growth belief at the basis of the global climate mitigation agenda is an unjust and high-stakes gamble and is not an ecologically coherent approach to the crisis we face.
This week’s Frankly adds a third perspective to the ‘growth critical’ conversation – that modern society has a metabolism and momentum and will grow – in non-green ways – until we can’t.
As countries explore ways of decarbonising their economies, the mantra of “green growth” risks trapping us in a spiral of failures. Green growth is an oxymoron.
So, is green growth happening? The answer is no, not really. As of today, economic growth is still a vector of resource use and environmental degradation.
So, let us reach a truce and build a mass movement to take on the real enemies of environmental justice. The stakes are too high to do anything else.
No one would deny that it is possible to make capitalism greener, nor that it should be urgently done. Yet the proposal of eco-productivism remains short-sighted.
My appeal to McAfee: let’s try to get beyond this sort of thing and engage more honestly with the empirical and theoretical work that has been done, so we can have more meaningful conversations. If we are going to realise our shared goals, we can and must do better.