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Growing the economy – but growth of what?

Michael Jacobs: Liz Truss dreams of growth – but even if she pulls it off, it won’t help Britain. Fifty years ago, the landmark report The Limits to Growth warned that, unless the composition of growth was
radically changed, its environmental impacts would lead to ecological and social collapse within 100 years.

Many of the projections made by The Limits to Growth have proved prescient. Yet it is also true that developed economies have been able to “uncouple” growth from some environmental
impacts. Over the past 20 years, the UK and others have notably seen rising GDP accompanied by falling greenhouse gas emissions.

Economists have described this as “green growth”, and many have argued that this, rather than growth per se, should be governments’ goal. Some environmentalists argue that environmental sustainability does not allow for any economic growth. Only the “degrowth” of western economies, they claim, is compatible with ecological salvation (and indeed, wellbeing). Others claim that GDP could still grow in a radically greener form. But in present circumstances this is a rather arcane dispute.

Both sides agree that some parts of the economy must degrow, notably the fossil fuel sector and fossil-intensive industries, while growth is clearly needed in others, such as renewable energy and the “care economy” of health, education, social care and childcare. The real question is therefore not “growth or
not?”, but “growth of what?”

 Guardian 10th Oct 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/10/liz-truss-dreams-growth-income-stall-gdp

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October 12, 2022 - Posted by | business and costs, UK

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