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Reasons Why ‘Green Growth’ Won’t Save the Planet

quarta-feira, maio 29, 2019

Resultado de imagem para Reasons Why ‘Green Growth’ Won’t Save the Planet
The dominant narrative for tackling contemporary environmental problems is green growth. The UN, OEDC, national governments, businesses, NGOs and its supporters say that sustainability can be achieved through technology, efficiency and market-led environmental action. This narrative suggests we can grow the economy and protect the planet at the same time.

But when it comes to tackling environmental problems such as climate change, resource depletion and species extinction, green growth may not be the best option. Here are the reasons why:

First, economic growth can trump the environmental efficiency. Although there are sectors such as construction, transport and agriculture that have managed to make less pollution and less resources per unit of output, these improvements have struggled to offset the scale and the speed of economic growth. By outpacing the improvements of production, economic growth has let to an unhampered rise in pollution, resource use and waste.

According to the observation of economist William Stanley Jevons in 1865, efficiency may be fueling further pollution and consumption. He noticed the introduction of a more efficient steam engine that coincided with more coral consumption and not less, as new profits were reinvested in extra production, causing the demand to rise, prices to fall and so on. It is called a rebound effect that exists across the economy, so the solution is to consume less. Environmental efficiency is just a half-baked solution and at times, could even add to the problem that it is trying to address.

Second, the overstated technology. Green growth wants us to believe that better technology is the solution. However, it is not proven. International environmental agreements and scenarios assume large scale technologies will be able to capture and store carbon emissions but we have yet to witness it happen. Mechanized agriculture is being pushed, but in reality low-tech farming is more productive and it can meet global food demand at a lower environmental cost.

Third, if there is no profit, there is no action. This is the most compelling argument for green growth because in protecting the environment, there should be profits made. There is a tension between these goals as many firms are risk averse and do not want to be first-movers, whether banning plastic cups, charging for plastic bags or introducing carbon labeling.

Sustainable interventions are not an attractive investment for private sectors as there is little profit to be made in conserving ecosystems or financing public infrastructure for electric vehicles. If we are really serious about living within our environmental limits, the best that we can do is to say goodbye to livestock, fertilizers and fossil fuels. If we leave that to the private sectors, it will take a very long time before any change can be made.

Page: The Science Times

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