Is Green Growth Possible?

Jason Hickel, Giorgos Kallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

85 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Political Economy
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

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

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