Beyond Uneconomic Growth
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Beyond Uneconomic Growth

Economics, Equity and the Ecological Predicament

Edited by Joshua Farley and Deepak Malghan

This engaging book brings together leading ecological economists to collectively present a definitive case for looking beyond economic growth as the sole panacea for the world’s ecological predicament. Grounded in physics, ecology, and the science of human behavior, contributors show how economic growth itself has become “uneconomic” and adds to a ravaging of both social and ecological cohesion.
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Chapter 13: Socially sustainable economic degrowth

Joan Martinez-Alier


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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