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Panos Petridis, Barbara Muraca and Giorgos Kallis

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Filka Sekulova, Giorgos Kallis and François Schneider

The idea of growth goes beyond a mere representation of an increase of gross domestic product (GDP). Growth takes place in terms of monetary flows, financial assets and transactions, capital accumulation; in terms of aggregate material throughput, infrastructure, desires, efficiency and productivity. It is equally promoted by those who call for austerity as well as those who advocate Keynesianism. The final result is often the same. Problems are shifted in space and time. The growth fetish, however, will not go away by ignoring it, but by creating the necessary political, social and economic conditions for managing and living well without growth. Degrowth, unlike what the term may suggest to the uninitiated, is not a technical economic term, meaning the opposite of growth. While it denounces GDP growth, its focus lies on changing the context and the units of measurement, or reference. The thorny goal of reducing consumption within degrowth is driven by principles of political organization in the spirit of caring for the commons, voluntary simplicity, and conviviality. Our hypothesis is that there is little to lose from embarking on a degrowth trajectory. On the contrary, only by dropping the growth fetish (now) can emissions be stabilized and extreme events prevented from menacing livelihoods. We empirically demonstrate here that the discomforts associated with living in a state of climatic instability cannot be offset by monetary growth. Moreover, well-being in a context of degrowth could be higher, especially when our terms of social reference change and our public goods and commons, or opportunities for accessing alternative networks of provisioning and work, are provided for.

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Hali Healy, Joan Martinez-Alier and Giorgos Kallis

This chapter argues for a cross-fertilization of political ecology with ecological economics. More specifically, it calls for greater efforts to link political ecology with ongoing movements outside academia, such as the global environmental justice movement and the degrowth movement in Europe. First, the authors consider the links between ecological economics and political ecology and some of the ways in which cross-fertilization has occurred. They then present a line of ecological economics research that employs a particular political ecological–economic vocabulary and analytic framework to analyse environmental conflicts and injustices, both of which are central subjects of political ecology. The focus is in particular on a ‘political’ stream of work within ecological economics concerned with intra-and intergenerational distribution and conflicting languages of valuation. Emergent work around the eco-egalitarian imaginary of ‘degrowth’ is subsequently introduced and briefly described. The authors argue that ecological economics has valuable insights to offer to political ecologists seeking to supplant the depoliticizing discourse of ecological modernization. They conclude that a deepening of exchange and collaboration between political ecology and ecological economics holds considerable transformative potential, especially since the relevance of political ecology lies in its ability to contribute to the construction of a more sustainable future.