Is decoupling likely to happen? To find out, here is a thread summary of my third and final lecture for The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature.
(Spoiler alert: the answer is no).

1/ The first limit to greening growth has to do with declining rates of Energy Returns on Energy Invested (EROI), meaning that it takes more and more energy to obtain energy.
2/ And for the economists out there who will argue that the energy sector is not that important because it’s only a small part of GDP, read this paper.
3/ Capitalism is a like a trampoline: efficiency gains do not solve the problem if they rebound into more resource use and emissions.
4/ Here are a few examples of rebound effects.
5/ If you think services can grow forever without any material consequences, think again.
6/ Services are not immaterial.
7/ Circular economy, yes please. But good luck trying to make a circular economy grow (it won’t).
8/ There are a few reasons why a circular economy cannot grow forever, and this is my favourite.
9/ TECHNOLOGY, the joker card for all green growth aficionados. Grow now, figure out ways to clean up later. But...
10/ But even that card quickly runs out of steam. First, not all innovation is eco-innovation. New technologies can also exacerbate old problems or even create new ones.
11/ Second limit: eco-innovation is not enough. We also need “exnovation,” that is for new, cleaner technologies to replace old ones. This is not always happening.
12/ Final reason why technological change is limited: it is (way) too slow, and getting slower.
13/ So, put these five limits together, plus the fact that there has been barely any decoupling so far, and you get one solid insight: growth can’t be greened.
14/ If you want to watch the whole lecture, it’s here:


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More from @timparrique

15 Nov
Here is a summary of my second lecture for The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature on the topic of green growth. Question of the day: Is decoupling happening?

The best way to answer this question is to read the systematic review of the literature conducted by Helmut Haberl and fifteen colleagues in 2020.…
The first finding of that review is that most studies focus on greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, leaving out all other environmental pressures. Also: only 8% of all decoupling studies use consumption-based indicators.
Read 11 tweets
10 Feb
Here is a thread to summarise the "Degrowth: Socialism without growth" paper I wrote with @g_kallis.…

1/ Claim 1: Any form of endless growth is ecologically unsustainable

Because: decoupling is limited

Implications: a sustainable socialism is a socialism without growth
2/ Claim 2: Growth requires accumulation and accumulation comes with exploitation

Because: the expansion of the market sphere puts pressure on reproductive activities

Implications: if socialism means the end of exploitation, it also means the end of endless accumulation
Read 5 tweets
13 Jan
What a year: 203 essays about degrowth in English since the beginning of March. Here is a selection of some of my favourites. Thank you @fem_degrowth, @beth_stratford, @thedownshifters, @corbinkbarthold, @degrowth_info for these brilliant texts.

Read 11 tweets

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