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Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

The debate on growth versus the environment is usually summarized as optimists believing in limitless growth versus pessimists seeing environmental and resource limits to growth. This opposition defines the main strategies, namely, striving for green growth versus some anti-growth approach. This chapter argues that we should not feel obliged to choose between these polarized opinions, as there is a third option, namely, the “agrowth” strategy (not to be confused with zero-growth). It offers a way out of the impasse that characterizes the growth-versus-environment debate by proposing to be agnostic or neutral about gross domestic product (GDP) (per capita) growth. The chapter defines this agrowth strategy, motivates its rationality, and examines its premises, implications, advantages and political feasibility. It is argued that both anti-growth and pro-growth goals represent avoidable, unnecessary constraints on our search for human betterment, which lead to lower realizations of social welfare than are feasible. The idea of green agrowth will be discussed too, notably in the context of preventing dangerous climate change. Finally, a pragmatic approach to selecting alternative macro-level indicators for progress is outlined.

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Jeroen C.J. M. van den Bergh and Peter Nijkamp

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Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

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Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

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Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

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Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

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Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

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Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

This major reference book comprises specially commissioned surveys in environmental and resource economics written by an international team of experts. Authoritative yet accessible, each entry provides a state-of-the-art summary of key areas that will be invaluable to researchers, practitioners and advanced students.
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Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh and Stefan Drews

The literature on growth versus climate shows that theoretical and empirical support for both green growth and anti-growth are currently weak. Both strategies appear to be risky and offer insufficient guarantees for controlling climate change. This chapter proposes another strategy. We need debate in politics and wider society about stepping outside the futile framing of pro- versus anti-growth. Realizing there is a third way can help to overcome current polarization and weaken political resistance against serious climate policy in a post-Paris world. An important advantage of the neutral a-growth strategy is that it can bridge the contrast between green growth and anti-growth positions and thus is able to reduce polarization in the growth debate. Unlike unconditional pro-growth, an a-growth strategy does not give priority to income growth over climate, but is aimed at finding a true balance between all aspects of social welfare.