Timothée Parrique Profile picture
May 16 • 17 tweets • 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Summary of my talk at the #BeyondGrowth conference on the impossibility of green growth and the necessity of degrowth. 🧵 Image
There is a rumour that is picking up speed in the media, affirming that it is possible to both produce more while polluting less. Some people call it “green growth.” Image
This rumour is not only a rumour, it is also a belief deeply embedded within our current environmental strategies. Problem: The idea of an economic growth fully decoupled from nature is scientifically baseless and it is distracting us from more effective transition strategies. Image
A truly green growth needs to be (1) absolutely decoupled from (2) all environmental pressures (3) wherever these happen (4) at a pace that is sufficiently fast, and (5) that continues over time. This green growth has never been achieved. Image
If you believe in green growth, the burden of proof is on you and you need to bring proof that these 5 things are possible. Waiting for that, we may want to start working on a sustainability transition that is actually feasible.
The actual decoupling we witness in Europe is very very (very) tiny. Calling it “green” would be like me saying I’ve done a “diet” afer losing 200 grammes. Image
It’s tiny and it’s concentrated during a few years, especially years marked by a significant slow down of economic growth. the best way to green growth is to take growth away.
Looking at the current rates of coupling between GDP and carbon, the only way of reaching that objective would be to degrow GDP by between -1 and -2% per year. Image
The numbers can be discussed but the logic is clear: producing and consuming more makes it more difficult to reduce ecological footprints. This is true for emissions and it’s even truer for other environmental pressures who are still intensely coupled with GDP.
If technological progress speeds up, great, it means we’ll reduce emissions even faster, but it feels irresponsibly foolish to bet the survival of humanity on a highly improbable miracle predicted by the obscure models of a handful of economists.
Economic growth has brought us in a state of ecological overshoot. Considering current and expected rates of coupling, there is no way we can get back into safe planetary boundaries without downscaling production and consumption. Image
Once this is done, the size of the economy can then fluctuate around a steady-state: sometimes up, sometimes down. The important thing is that it should never overshoot biocapacity nor undershoot decent living standards.
But we’re not all starting from the same place. Temporary degrowth in the global North; temporary growth in the global South, then both meeting at a sustainable steady-state securing wellbeing for all within planetary boundaries. Image
The story of decoupling is reassuring; it’s a don’t worry, everything is fine, everything is going to be okay kind of thing to say. And this is precisely why that story is dangerous. The fable of green growth is acting as a kind of macroeconomic greenwashing.
My worry is that we’re losing precious time arguing that maybe, one day, perhaps, if-this-if-that, decoupling could happen. In the meantime, we are merely tinkering with a system that should be radically transformed.
Fact is, rich countries today still look like see-saws: when GDP goes up, nature goes down. The real question is: Which one do we really want to save?

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More from @timparrique

Mar 24
Est-ce que le dernier apport du #giec parle de décroissance ? OUI. Trois articles pour comprendre le lien entre climat, sobriété, et décroissance. 🧵
Analyse du volet n°3 de l'AR6 du #giec sur l'atténuation du changement climatique.

Analyse du volet n°2 de l'AR6 du #giec sur l'adaptation au changement climatique.

Read 4 tweets
Mar 14
Degrowth as a transition from a growth economy to a post-growth economy. Image
An increase in production and consumption to grow profit for private owners by privatizing the benefits and socializing the losses in the spirit of enhancing well-being for the selected few. Image
A reduction of production and consumption to lighten the ecological footprints, planned democratically in a spirit of social justice while improving well-being. Image
Read 5 tweets
Feb 24
Green growth is macroeconomic greenwashing. A summary of my response to @paulkrugman after his article on green growth in the @nytimes. 🧵
Arguing that economic growth can be greened by showing evidence of one single impact going down is like bragging about being healthy by showing that one of your arms has lost weight. Sustainability requires a reduction of many environmental pressures.
If you want to show that growth is genuinely green, you must bring evidence that GDP has decoupled from all environmental pressures. After five years actively searching for this particular proof, I have never seen anyone managing to do that.
Read 15 tweets
Feb 7
5 reasons why communism is more likely to be sustainable than capitalism, feat @koheisaito0131 🧵
An economy focused on concrete needs is more likely to avoid unnecessary processes of production than an economy organised around infinite moneymaking.
An economy that prioritises wellbeing would get rid of non-essential goods/services and bullshit jobs.
Read 7 tweets
Jan 24
How to explain degrowth, feat ChatGPT. 🧵
How to explain degrowth to a toddler?
How to explain degrowth to a kid?
Read 12 tweets
Nov 17, 2022
La #décroissance n'a jamais été aussi populaire. Voici une sélection d'articles dans les médias.

Read 14 tweets

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