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Is Green Growth Possible?

Hickel, Jason and Kallis, Giorgos. 2019. Is Green Growth Possible? New Political Economy, ISSN 1356-3467 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

The notion of green growth has emerged as a dominant policy response to climate change and ecological breakdown. Green growth theory asserts that continued economic expansion is compatible with our planet’s ecology, as technological change and substitution will allow us to absolutely decouple GDP growth from resource use and carbon emissions. This claim is now assumed in national and international policy, including in the Sustainable Development Goals. But empirical evidence on resource use and carbon emissions does not support green growth theory. Examining relevant studies on historical trends and model-based projections, we find that: (1) there is no empirical evidence that absolute decoupling from resource use can be achieved on a global scale against a background of continued economic growth, and (2) absolute decoupling from carbon emissions is highly unlikely to be achieved at a rate rapid enough to prevent global warming over 1.5°C or 2°C, even under optimistic policy conditions. We conclude that green growth is likely to be a misguided objective, and that policymakers need to look toward alternative strategies.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1080/13563467.2019.1598964

Keywords:

Sustainable development, ecological economics, green growth, degrowth, decoupling

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology

Dates:

DateEvent
17 April 2019Published

Item ID:

26392

Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2019 10:05

Last Modified:

13 Jun 2019 10:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26392

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