Economics, Equity and the Ecological Predicament
Advances in Ecological Economics series
Edited by Joshua Farley and Deepak Malghan
Chapter 13: Socially sustainable economic degrowth
Looking back to 2007, we see that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios never contemplated (self-imposed censorship, perhaps) a decline in the rich countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) of 5 per cent and then a long period of non-growth as might perhaps be the case. For the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries as a whole, seven years after the crisis, the public debt has increased but the economy has scarcely recovered from the downturn of 2008–09. This was not in the economists’ script. For 20 years, the orthodox slogan had been sustainable development (United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987), meaning economic growth that was environmentally sustainable. We know, however, that economic growth was not environmentally sustainable. The discussion on décroissance or degrowth that Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen started 40 years ago should now be a topic for discussion in the rich countries because la décroissance est arrivée. Now is the moment to substitute GDP by social and environmental indicators at the macro-level and to trace progress towards a socio-ecological transition by the behaviour of such indicators.
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