A group of researchers call for new climate models which explore post-growth approaches, keeping economies stable without growth, while improving people’s lives.
They point out that existing models, which are based on continued economic growth, gamble on dramatic and potentially unfeasible technological change to meet the Paris Agreement goals of keeping global warming below 1.5°C or 2°C.
Economic growth is projected to drive a significant increase in energy demand over the coming decades, making climate mitigation more difficult. If high-income countries continue to grow at their usual rates, they will need to decarbonize their economic outputs by more than 12 per cent a year, which will be a significant challenge.
The authors raise concerns that assumptions about negative emissions technologies are “speculative and risky”. For example, scaling up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) would require massive amounts of agricultural land and water to grow crops for biofuels.
The paper’s authors argue that economic growth is not necessary for social progress in already wealthy countries. Instead, human needs and well-being can be provided for by reducing inequality, ensuring living wages, shortening the work week to main full employment and guaranteeing universal access to public healthcare, education, transportation, energy, water and affordable housing.
The authors highlight possible policy interventions across transport, industry, the building sector and in cities that would make it possible to achieve rapid decarbonization without relying so heavily on negative emissions technologies and productivity improvements.
Read the article:
Hickel, J., Brockway, P., Kallis, G. et al. Urgent need for post-growth climate mitigation scenarios. Nat Energy 6, 766–768 (2021)