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  • Rosalie Constable

Growth without economic growth?

Can we create a society that consumes less and grows in other than material dimensions?


At sustain:able we’ve been thinking more about consumption and what drives our current society.


A recent article – shared HERE – entitled "Growth without economic growth" really resonated with us.


As the article states: "The ongoing ‘Great Acceleration’ in loss of biodiversity, climate change, pollution and loss of natural capital is tightly coupled to economic activities and economic growth."


However, continued growth is simply not sustainable and never has been. The most important take-away from this article was the reminder of how important our values are to us:


“European heritage is much richer than material consumption. The fundamental values of the EU are human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, and they cannot be reduced to or substituted by an increase in GDP.”


We would say most cultures around the world have similar values. So why, in the developed world, are these values overridden by an insatiable need for more of everything, often at the expense of these core values? The article also cites a couple of studies that show that, rather than population growth, the emergence of a global affluent middle class has been the stronger driver of increasing consumption since the turn of the century (see article for references).


The energy transition is not just about technology challenges, there are bigger social science challenges to tackle.


But we can all influence change and we can’t wait for it to come from the top. Make those hundreds of little decisions you make every day count towards a more sustainable future.



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