14 July 2019

The European Environmental Bureau has published a report arguing ‘green growth’ is wishful thinking: “The validity of the green growth discourse relies on the assumption of an absolute, permanent, global, large and fast enough decoupling of economic growth from all critical environmental pressures. The literature reviewed clearly shows that there is no empirical evidence for such a decoupling currently happening. This is the case for materials, energy, water, greenhouse gases, land, water pollutants, and biodiversity loss for which decoupling is either only relative, and/or observed only temporarily, and/or only locally. … [T]he hypothesis that decoupling will allow economic growth to continue without a rise in environmental pressures appears highly compromised, if not clearly unrealistic.” They conclude that “trying to reduce impacts while growing makes as little sense as trying to brake while accelerating in front of an obstacle”, and consequently, we should focus on sufficiency rather than growth: “we should reframe the debate altogether: what we need to decouple is not economic growth from environmental pressure but prosperity and the ‘good life’ from economic growth.”