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Heat, Greed and Human Need

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

This book builds an essential bridge between climate change and social policy. Combining ethics and human need theory with political economy and climate science, it offers a long-term, interdisciplinary analysis of the prospects for sustainable development and social justice. Beyond ‘green growth’ (which assumes an unprecedented rise in the emissions efficiency of production) it envisages two further policy stages vital for rich countries: a progressive ‘recomposition’ of consumption, and a post-growth ceiling on demand. An essential resource for scholars and policymakers.
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Chapter 2: Human needs and sustainable wellbeing

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Extract

Chapter 2 sets out a novel normative framework to judge progress in both human welfare and planetary sustainability: universal human needs and their satisfaction. It outlines a theory of human need and identifies health and autonomy as fundamental needs universally required to enable people to participate in their social forms of life. It goes on to distinguish these universal needs from culturally specific satisfiers and sketches a way of assessing the latter. These material satisfiers themselves require a set of institutions to decide on and produce them in a sustainable way. Finally, the chapter restates the strong normative priorities that follow: meeting people’s basic needs, now and in the future, should be the first priority of justice, and satisfying needs thus takes moral precedence over satisfying consumer preferences.

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