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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 8: Post-growth, redistribution and wellbeing

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Extract

Chapter 8 takes off from the argument that even a combination of radical eco-efficiency and recomposing consumption will not cut emissions fast enough to avoid dangerous global warming if economic growth continues in the rich world. It sets out some basic features of a post-growth or degrowth economy: an emphasis on reproduction not production, investment not consumption, more discretionary time not more commodities, more equality and redistribution not less. This would profoundly affect all existing welfare states, which are premised on economic growth. A variety of policy solutions are considered, including spreading wealth more evenly through alternative forms of taxation and ownership, and fostering the core or social economy. An economy and a society that can no longer rely on annual growth will require a radical redistribution of carbon, time and the ownership of wealth. The most realistic policy to achieve this transition, it is argued, is gradually to reduce paid work time – another vital eco-social policy.

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