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Greens question the value of Economic Growth

“Greens question true value of economic growth – Bernard Little reviews
the evidence for a new kind of economics”.

The Green Party (well to be accurate The People Party..which became the
Ecology Party which then went on to become the Green Party) was formed
in the 1970’s in response to “Blueprint for Survival” and the Club of
Rome 1972 “Limits to Growth” report.  It was obvious to me then that
pursing eternal economic growth is impossible on a finite planet. What
should have reinforced this was the first photo of the Earth taken from
space and a collective awareness that it is madness to trash our home. A
new economics was necessary that recognised there are limits.

20 years later the mainstream political parties greened up and assured
us that they had got the message that the environment is not an
expensive luxury but vital to both our well-being and survival.

Now and In the midst of the deepest recession since the 1930’s we are
told that everybody thinks economic growth is the most important goal
for government. Left and right may disagree with small details of what
actually has to grow but they are in agreement that growth is what is
needed. It is hardly surprising when neo-liberalisms and Keynesianisms
criteria for success is growth. But now in there desperate attempt to
please “The Markets” the bottom line is that our social and
environmental life lines must be swept aside on this holy grail.

Unsurprisingly the Green Party disagree.

I would  like more members  to contribute thinking about the
growing economic crisis at this critical time and our response.

References I have been using…..

Green Party National Policy (Last updated 2010)
EC310 Conventional economic policy uses economic growth, inflation, balance
of payments and unemployment as ‘economic indicators’, the normal criteria
against which progress is measured. Although it is the most usually quoted
indicator, gross national product (GNP) is a poor indicator of true progress
and does not adequately measure people’s sense of well-being. It measures
only the activity in the formal sector, regardless of what that activity is.
In consequence, current economic theory fails adequately to reflect the real
effects of human activity within a finite ecosystem, and is used to
‘validate’ economic activities which are ecologically unsustainable and/or
socially unjust.
Policy EC311 The Green Party would therefore replace the conventional
indicators with those that measure progress towards sustainability, equity
and devolution.

This report commissioned by the French president in 2008 and its 12
recommendations carries a lot of credibility….note that Nicolas Stern was
a member of this commission. As usual like Cameron’s commitment to Wellbeing
it gets diluted to a meaningless sound bite. Always worth going back to the
original source.

Prosperity without Growth report. Clearly spells out that pursing growth in
gdp is inconsistent with cutting greenhouse emissions. If we fail to argue
for and adopt a low carbon economy wonderful though they are initiatives
like A Million low Carbon Jobs and Zero Carbon Britain will not see us
hitting CO2 reduction targets.

This is an example of the sort of response we are used to from our critics.

A good short summary of Richard Murphy’s 2011 book “The Courageous State”.
This is surely what the Green Party economic ideas are about ……

These are the five principles of sustainable development which have recently
been given new life in the governments planning guidelines. An economic
strategy that ignores this just shows how bone-headed our political leaders

A frightening critique on the German Green Party “Neo-liberals on Bikes” and
which the UK Green Party must learn lessons. My concern is that keeping
quiet about our opposition to growth in GDP and failing to articulate a well
argued alternative will quickly see us being subsumed within “politics as

Bernard Little

Topics: Bernard Little, City Wide, Economy, Featured

There is One Response to Greens question the value of Economic Growth

23rd May 2012

Goes back to Malthus. Population growth is exponential. Carrying capacity grows more like linear, or polynomial. Exponential beats polynomial. Growth must end.
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