Can the world support rising levels of consumption? Naturally, the response is no. The typical product produces carbon emissions that are 6.3 times its weight during the course of its life. It is crucial to reduce consumption through degrowth rather than just greening consumption by purchasing more products that were produced sustainably. This is so because the manufacture of the items we use and purchase on a daily basis accounts for 45% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Our love of material possessions is a result of the widely held belief that consumption is necessary for economic growth since it fuels business profitability and creates jobs. However, the effects on the earth from our household consumption have a significant impact on the environment since environmental and social justice implications are not taken into account when determining purchase pricing.
Many of us were raised by relatives who had lived through the hardship of the post-World War II years. Luxuries were not allowed, but every crumb was saved. Then came the post-war housing boom, when Americans moved into more than 1,000,000 new homes each year. The amount spent on appliances and furniture climbed by AA3. Millions of automobiles, refrigerators, stoves, and televisions are purchased by families every year.
Unrestrained materialism and what was perceived as affluence were prevalent throughout that time.
Then people began to see how consumerism and anthropogenic climate change are related. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came to the conclusion in 2019 that significant reductions in consumer demand were required to limit carbon emissions. That viewpoint was in opposition to the widely held belief that whomever had the most toys wins.
These decreases in consumer demand are a crucial component of the degrowth idea.
RELATED IMPERATIVES FOR DEGROWTH AND INVESTMENT Degrowth theory was first introduced in 1972 and gained popularity after an MIT computer simulation depicted a world that had become unstable due to rising material consumption. Since then, the environmental movement has focused on how mankind affects the environment and has highlighted economic growth as a major cause of unsustainability.
Investment notes increasingly include the idea, recognizing the day will come when environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations must take precedence over financial considerations. It makes sense since managing and dealing with significant, paradigm-shifting externalities is a requirement for maintaining long-term value. After COVID, supply chains are disrupted, and consumers are shocked by the unexpected scarcity.
Can we adapt to a world without every material good to which we have grown accustomed?
Instead of meaningless mitigation efforts that amount to little more than maintaining the same financial development trajectories and assumptions, it will be necessary for business models that work in harmony with society and the environment.
This necessitates a fundamental reevaluation of what business is, according to Lucy Findlay, managing director of Social Enterprise Mark, writes in a July blog post. Findlay argues that even within the specialized social enterprise and investment sector, such thought will be necessary. Instead of progressively modifying the current system led by people who are ingrained, we need to think boldly about how we construct a different ecosystem led by those who have been excluded by it.
According to McKinsey and Company. An August 2022 report outlines how many businesses are now making significant ESG decisions, such as ceasing operations in Russia, protecting workers in vulnerable nations, and providing historic levels of relief. Additionally, they continue to set and carry out plans for achieving science-based targets and pledges.
Despite recent swirling debates, ESG factors are becoming more, not less, significant in business decision-making. Regulators are taking note as externalities including a company’s GHG emissions, impacts on labor markets, and implications for supplier health and safety are evolving into an urgent concern.
WHAT WAYS COULD DEGROWTH BECOME A NORM Degrowth creates a different set of cultural norms in which we live in a caring and commons economy. Eco-communities and rules for sharing are supported.
It may be difficult to imagine a socio-ecological future driven by social justice, democracy, respect for nature and its inherent value, purpose of life, and collective well-being in a world when the US Capitol is attacked by citizen treasonists.
Degrowth was one of several alternative economic models that the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ( IPBES ) incorporated last month. These models include insights that may help to slow down environmental deterioration. According to a 4-year systematic review by 82 leading scientists and experts from every part of the world, the way nature is valued in political and economic decisions is both a critical cause of the global biodiversity catastrophe and a crucial chance to address it.
Certain values of nature, notably market-based instrumental values of nature, have been favored primarily in economic and political decisions. These market values are frequently given preference in policymaking, but they do not sufficiently reflect how changes in the natural world affect people’s quality of life. The IPBES research claims that policymaking ignores the numerous non-market values connected to nature’s contributions to people, such as cultural identity and climate regulation.
What might the application of this degrowth mindset look like? In addition to requiring those businesses to record and reduce their carbon footprints, it also respects the growth and skill sets of green businesses.
It might imply a shift away from meat consumption in western diets. People might travel in electric cars or live in smaller-sized dwellings. Remote employment and the associated reduction in driving-related emissions would stop being a special company strategy and instead become the norm. Visionaries like Elon Musk have been advocating for ride sharing to become standard. The next big thing might be sharing clothes and bikes.
Could the US and western Europe go so far as to use a separate metric to gauge economic success, like Bhutan in the Himalayas does with its gross national happiness index? Japan is looking at the design of an green GDP measurement .
For the degrowth cultural change to be supported, it would be necessary to establish forums on future demands fulfilment. These and other behavioral adjustments may encourage an investment strategy that is linked with degrowth, which encourages greater sustainability.
Yes, as 6.3 0 points out in a recent post, it will be an ideological tsunami for investment companies to guide clients down opposing paths of expanding consumption and production while applauding sustainability efforts of all types. However, consumerism is a result of how people interact with nature. Prior to actively altering nature’s places, one must become accustomed to ways of claiming those spaces and exercise thoughtful consideration.
Degrowth thinking will necessitate more peaceful coexistences, and such a reality might necessitate an emphasis on fostering healthy relationships with nature, other people, and oneself outside of the economic sector but contributing to a new renaissance of wealth.
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