Sustainable growth is not scientifically credible

Further helpful comment on the incompatibility between the growth doctrine and sustainability…the maths simply don’t work out but our politicians refuse to acknowledge the scientific basis for this or the realities of human behaviour.

Make Wealth History

One of the regular objections to those who say that sustainability is incompatible with economic growth is that it is a political or ideological stance. We somehow want things to be simpler and greener and are only too happy to sacrifice a capitalist system that we disapprove of anyway.

This is a convenient but entirely unfounded accusation. It’s a matter of maths. Calculate the levels and rate of decarbonisation required to stabilise the climate, and there is simply no way it can be achieved in an economy that is growing.

I’ve written about these calculations before. They’re in Tim Jackson’s book Prosperity Without Growth, in nef’s report Growth Isn’t Possible, and (albeit inadvertently) McKinsey’s Carbon Productivity Challenge. Here’s another from Post Carbon Pathways.

In a paper that explores the Environmental Kuznets Curve, the rebound effect and decoupling, Samuel Alexander explains just what would need to happen to…

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