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Economic growth doesn’t have to mean ‘more’ – consuming ‘better’ will also protect the planet


By Renaud Foucart, Lancaster University 

Around 30 years ago, many developed countries started a process of absolute decoupling of their emissions of CO₂ and energy use from economic growth. This allows for stable or even shrinking emissions while growing the economy.

The result is that GDP in the UK, France or Germany has increased more than in 1990. However, CO2 emissions are now lower. This is not due to the west’s deindustrialization. CO2 emissions have declined even when we consider imports from China.

It may not be enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change and wildlife destruction. This is the best example of the greatest misunderstanding of economics. Growth is a measure or how much an economy produces and not an accurate account of its value.

Emissions and GDP

Climate change must be combated by a radical economic transformation that uses less energy and resource. This means it could cause economic growth by making us consume “better”, not more. People will have to pay the true price of their consumption if the Earth is protected by a monetary value.

“Better” consumption of…

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