If green growth is not enough as a sole strategy for sustainability - what is needed? In autumn 2019 ZOE presented the results of its report 'Decoupling Debunked' in the German Bundestag and the European Parliament. Subsequently, civil society actors such as BUND or the European Environmental Bureau derived approaches and strategies for a transformative economy and discussed these and green growth with members of the German Bundestag, parliamentarians and EU policy experts.
Current German and European sustainability policy is largely efficiency policy.
ZOE’s report results in “Decoupling Debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability” show overwhelmingly clearly: It is not empirically verifiable that the decoupling of economic growth from environmental consumption occurs in approximately the order of magnitude required to cope with environmental impacts. Such a decoupling is also very unlikely in the future. For effective environmental policy, efficiency-enhancing policy strategies must be complemented by sufficiency strategies.
In other words, the absolute reduction of the production and consumption levels of highly industrialized economies is needed to stay within planetary limits.
Jonathan Barth, co-founder of ZOE and co-author of the report, presented the results at the parliamentary breakfast in the German Bundestag and in the EU Parliament, thus initiating a reflection on current growth policies and the development of effective policy measures to safeguard our natural resources.
ZOE hosted the Parliamentary Breakfast in the German Bundestag together with the German League for Nature Conservation (Deutscher Naturschutzring) and BUND. On the political side, the event was co-organized by patrons of die Grünen, die Linke, SPD and CDU.
The political breakfast debate in the EU Parliament was organized by ZOE together with the European Environmental Bureau only one month later. Here the researchers discussed with policymakers such as Helmut Scholz (Group of the European United Left) or Michael Bloss (Group of the European Greens).
The words of Patrizia Heidegger, Director for Global Policy and Sustainability of the European Environmental Bureau, sum up the problem: “European policies are contradictory. On the one hand, we want to become sustainable, minimise our emissions and significantly reduce the consumption of resources. At the same time, our politicians continue to ensure an economic system in which stability and jobs require the continuous expansion of the economy. If we want to avoid ecological collapse, we must first end our dependence on economic growth and decouple our well-being from the GDP curve”.
In its project “EU Policy Beyond Growth”, ZOE-Institute pursues exactly this: developing policy proposals to reduce growth dependencies of our European societies. You can find out more about the project here.