Monday, April 6, 2009

Reject the god of growth for a sustainable future, says professor

Wales Online (UK): Tomorrow, Professor Tim Jackson, economics commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission, will be in Swansea to launch a report calling on the UK government to tackle the economic crisis through low carbon recovery measures. Here, he suggests a new way of thinking to meet the challenges that lie ahead:

This year is likely to be seen as a defining moment in economic history. The combination of the severest economic recession since the 1930s; increasingly stark warnings about the risk of accelerating climate change; worsening environmental problems and resource shortages, and the threat of widespread social disruption all leave no room for business- as-usual thinking.

On a more modest scale, 2009 is also a defining moment for the Government. With little more than a year to run in its current term, it faces unprecedented challenges to its own credentials. But it is also presented with a unique opportunity to create lasting change and make a vital transition to a sustainable low carbon economy.

It’s against this backdrop that the Sustainable Development Commission has been developing its advice to the Treasury and to Number 10 regarding the Budget on April 22. The 2008 Pre-Budget Report indicated some significant shifts in the direction of what we have called a Sustainable New Deal, but at nothing like the scale that is now required given such dire threats both to the global economy and to the global environment.

…But the current financial crisis not only presents us with a unique opportunity to begin the transition to a low carbon economy. It provides the space for us to question the short-term thinking that has plagued society for decades, and to invest in real change. The reasons behind our current predicament are easy enough to find. The modern economy is structurally reliant on economic growth for its stability.

When growth falters – as it has done recently – politicians panic. Businesses struggle to survive. People lose their jobs and sometimes their homes. A spiral of recession looms. In these circumstances, it may seem inopportune to be questioning growth. However, the current crisis is in no small measure a result of our pursuit of growth. So figuring out how to deliver prosperity without growth is more essential now than ever…..

Nicholas Roerich, "Lao Tse" (1943)

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