Economic Vitality in a Transition to Sustainability

Economic Vitality in a Transition to Sustainability, by Neva Goodwin

This paper is part of series with what seems to me a most unpromising title: Growing the Economy Through Global Warming Solutions. Ignore that, and the first couple of obligatory blah blah pages – the good stuff is in the body of the paper itself. It concisely examines solutions to our position of environmental overshoot, as well as challenges and issues of transition (including global social justice, and the need to reconstruct our economic system beyond capitalism as we know it) and reasons for optimism about the kind of society (and economy) we could have if we start to implement the solutions now.

“The most general answers [on how to get to a sustainable society] are obvious: take all the climate change mitigation actions that are immediately available, while investing heavily in research and implementation of additional mitigation options, as well as a multitude of strategies for adaptation. In the short term – the next fifteen years or so – this approach can work well within existing economic structures. For the longer term, however, it will be necessary to undertake more basic changes in how we think about and carry on economic activity. All economic systems should be considered fair game for review and restructuring, including the patterns of production, financing, ownership, consumption, maintenance, and responsibility that are now taken for granted in industry, housing, appliance life cycles, waste disposal, agriculture, resource extraction, and all other major aspects of economic life. Changes will be needed; ultimately they are likely to be as much social and institutional as they are economic and technological.” (p.6, emphasis mine)

Read more about GDAE’s Theory and Education work on Climate Economics

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