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Sustainable Growth or Growth vs. Sustainability: Examining the relationships between resource use, climate emissions and economic growth

Posted by Rachel Tansey on July 28, 2011 at 8:00am (The Quaker Council for European Affairs has just published a discussion paper which examines the relationships between resource use, climate emissions and economic growth.)

Sustainable Growth or Growth vs. Sustainability is intended to stimulate discussion and debate on how our economic system relates to the many interlinked challenges that face the world today -  climate change, energy supply, growing economic inequality, global poverty, financial crises, food security, water stress, resource scarcity and conflicts relating to many of these issues.

In particular, this discussion paper focuses on economic growth, resource consumption and climate change. The briefing encourages people to think beyond personal commitments to sustainable lifestyles, and to examine how the economic systems we participate in are implicated in poverty and inequality, environmental degradation and climate change.

This paper serves as an introduction, and explores only part of an enormously complex picture. Beginning with the conventional wisdom surrounding economic growth and its decreasing environmental impact, it then looks at the critiques and debates that increasingly surround issues like:

  • economic growth and its overarching purpose;
  • relative and absolute decoupling;
  • rates of efficiency increases;
  • environmental externalities, especially in pricing structures;
  • finite resources;
  • ecological space;
  • conceptions of wealth;
  • technology;
  • the precautionary principle, and;
  • sustainability.

These issues are critical to the biggest threats of our time: to our climate; to food sovereignty; to energy and water security; to the incidence of poverty; and to the potential for violent conflict and growing injustice.
Whether or not we choose to engage with them does not alter the fact that they are vital to any serious consideration of a sustainable and peaceful future.

QCEA, like OPEN:EU, is trying to encourage wider audiences to examine their assumptions and to consider questions such as:

  • What kind of changes to our systems, and to our lives, would help create a sustainable economy?
  • What stands in my/our way to bring about these changes?
  • What should our governments/the EU do to help bring about change?
  • Within the framework of the world as it is, what can be done to send the necessary messages to politicians (i.e. what kind of consumer behaviour, political activism, etc. is feasible)?
  • How do we imagine a different, more sustainable and just economic framework, and how could we make a peaceful transition to it from the world as it is today?
  • How can we team up with others elsewhere to magnify our voices on these issues?

You can download the paper here.


Programme Downloads and Outputs

OPEN:EU Introduction




OPEN:EU Launch Event

7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement N° 227065. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the One Planet Economy Network and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. 
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