Advocates for a Green New Deal are for a collection of admirable goals which it is usually taken for granted can be achieved within a capitalist economy and while the pursuit of economic growth continues.  Here is an indication of the main reasons why these assumptions are totally mistaken.

The fundamental assumption underlying these beliefs is that economic growth can be “decoupled” from resource and ecological demands and impacts. That is, it is claimed that the rate of production and consumption can continue to increase while the resources needed to do this can be reduced to sustainable levels, along with the environmental damage it causes. This comforting faith is widely held, including by major global institutions.

It is disturbing that this tech-fix faith persists despite the mountain of evidence that it is wrong. Anyone still unaware of this should consult the massive studies by Hickel and Kallis, Parrique et al., and Haberle et al.  The second lists over 300 studies and the third lists over 850.

There are some areas in which production is being achieved and/or could be with reduced impacts, and transition to renewable energy is an important instance.  But what matters is whether the overall output of an economy can be reduced as its GDP rises, which is “absolute” decoupling. The above reviews conclude emphatically that despite constant effort to increase efficiency and cut costs absolute de-coupling of resource use and environmental impact from GDP growth is not occurring, and that greater recycling effort and transition to “service and information economies” are not at all likely to achieve it. Despite constant effort to improve productivity and efficiency, in general growth of GDP is accompanied by growth in resource use.

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