A green growth strategy will not be sufficient. No offense to those who had hoped to “unplug” growth and natural resources, GDP is still inextricably linked to our physical footprint, the amount of stuff packed into producing all the things we consume. This material consumption is essential because it generates more 90% of environmental impactsHence the urgent need to reduce it. In 2018, the physical footprint of the average French person was 17.1 tonsthat is 8% more than it was in 1992. Although GDP is increasing faster than the physical footprint, we are very far – and farther and farther – from the sustainable limit for 7.7 tons per person. So the observation is clear: reducing our consumption of materials is not possible in an economy that produces more and more.
If material separation is impossible, some have more hope of carbon separation. Admittedly, very few countries have succeeded in stabilizing carbon emissions, but without really being able to reduce them. Some people talk a little too quickly about good news Referring to an article quoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, in the study November 2021, a group of five researchers led by Klaus Hopasek, author of the chapter on the chapter on the IPCC report, showed that, between 2015 and 2018, 14 countries experienced an absolute decoupling, that is, GDP growth combined with a declining carbon footprint. In this regard, EU countries reduced their emissions by 8% between 1995 and 2015. Good news, you might say. However, there is a problem: this drop has no significance. To put this figure in perspective, the European Commission’s goal is to reduce emissions 55% by 2030. Hence the authors’ conclusion regarding the inadequacy of a green growth strategy: There is mounting evidence that even large-scale and rapid absolute separation may not be sufficient to achieve these goals [les 1,5 °C ou 2°C de l’Accord de Paris] without some form of economic decline.”
We followed the students in a “lockdown” environment. It could be tomorrow’s world
Yes, you heard right. The main study used by the IPCC advocates degrowth. This concept has been used several times in reporting on Adaptation as well as in one on attenuation. This is not surprising. If all production directly requires more or less materials, and if a large part of the production emits greenhouse gases, then producing less makes it possible to accelerate the reduction of environmental stresses. This is the logic of avoidance of change and improvement that the IPCC uses in Chapter 5 of its Mitigation Report. Why bother preparing to produce something that we can simply avoid consuming? To reduce emissions at present, it is more effective to fly less or stop eating meat than to invest in the development of hydrogen aircraft and cultured meat, and hypothetical solutions to environmental impacts are uncertain.
When the rich destroy the planet
This demand-driven approach is even more important when emissions are highly concentrated. It is written in black on white in the summary of the latest IPCC report: “Individuals of high socioeconomic status contribute disproportionately to emissions”. In fact, the richest 10% on the planet are to blame 47.6% Total emissions, four times more than the poorest half of humanity. High-income countries account for only 16% of the world’s population but have consumed 74% Of all the materials since 1970, with individual physical footprints amounting to 25 tons while most humans have not yet exceeded the sustainable limit of 7.7 tons. These numbers confirm what Hervé Kempf said nearly twenty years ago: The rich are destroying the planet. Flight related figures are not subject to appeal. If 1% of the world’s population is responsible for 50% For commercial aviation emissions, reducing demand from these excess consumers is a much more effective mitigation strategy than investing in the slow and uncertain decarbonization of the entire sector.
Bruno Latour: “Mr Macron’s program made sense in 1945!”
We know that the countries of the South will need more resources to develop. Adding to the environmental emergency, therefore, is the moral imperative to reduce resource use and emissions as much as possible in countries that can afford them. We need a new sustainable development strategy: a friendly retreat in the developed countries that will allow sustainable development in the countries of the South. This is the only strategy that can achieve “Prosperity for all without going beyond the limits of the planet” – Key phrase for Climate Change Mitigation Report. in the world of Increasingly tight environmental restrictionsWe need to share our natural heritage more equitably.
For rich countries, quality of life is no longer tied to GDP
Perhaps this is where the IPCC gives us good news. Reducing consumption in rich countries can double the yield in terms of sustainability and well-being. In fact, the Quality of life in developed countries It is no longer determined by GDP, and has been for a long time. What is the point of striving to produce and consume more if it does not improve our health, our levels of education, the quality of our social relationships, our institutions, and our happiness? give priority to happy sobrietyThe voluntary simplicityor thealternative hedonismand slower, happier lifestyles that reduce our carbon/material impacts while improving our quality of life.
To make these new consumption patterns possible, we have no choice: we must fundamentally reorganize the economy. The new tracks already exist. Let’s replace the GDP with a control panel of indicators like New Zealand Wellness Budgets and commercial accounting Impact degrees. Let us put an end to profitable ownership and favor unproductive modes of production such as Limited profit cooperativesThe low techand the common. Let’s lose armament through action Job Guarantee and the Reduce working time. Let’s reinvent money with Alt coinsfrom Not-for-Profit Banksand one Solidarity Financing. Let’s protect the ability to live with the creation of a Social securityfrom salary for lifeor a Unconditional moratorium on autonomy. Let’s democratize the economy with the establishment Citizens’ Agreements for Welfare and reduce economic, environmental and social inequalities to enable a participatory socialism.