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Abstract: The current controversies on “sustainable growth”, “green growth” and “degrowth” cover many issues in the relations between human behavior, societal regulation and technology in face of the need to overcome the environmental crisis. The point of departure of this paper is the observation that the roles of technology and of technological progress in realizing an ecologically sound development often are simply taken as mere assumptions or else are taken for granted. The objective of this paper is to critically scrutinize assumptions and expectations of the eco-modernist approach from the perspective of technology assessment in the context of the debate on growth and degrowth. By reconstructing the basic arguments, assumptions, and premises of the eco-modernist approach and their critical assessment, the analysis culminates in the diagnosis of the eco-modernist approach being morally hazardous because it expects to overcome the ecological crisis by technological progress and its acceleration only, ignoring the ambivalences of technology and the issue of unintended side effects. Following this result, conclusions will be drawn in two directions: from the experience of technology assessment for degrowth, and from degrowth thinking for technology assessment.

Journal of Cleaner Production; Available online 2 August 2016
Part of a special issue on degrowth and technology