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Abstract: The debate on growth versus the environment is usually summarized as optimists believing in limitless growth versus pessimists seeing environmental and resource limits to growth. This opposition defines the main strategies: namely, striving for green growth versus some anti-growth approach. In this paper I argue that we should not feel obliged to choose between these polarized opinions, as there is in fact a third option. I call this the “agrowth” strategy, and it offers a way out of the impasse that characterizes the growth-versus- environment debate. I will define this agrowth strategy, motivate its rationality, and examine its premises, implications, advantages, political feasibility and practical steps. I suggest that an agrowth strategy follows logically from accepting the shortcomings of GDP (per capita) as an indicator of social welfare. It will be graphically shown that both anti-growth and pro-growth goals represent avoidable, unnecessary constraints on our search for human betterment, which lead to lower realizations of social welfare than are in fact feasible. I will further discuss the idea of green agrowth, notably in the context of avoiding dangerous climate change. Finally, a pragmatic approach to selecting alternative macro indicators is proposed.

WWWForEurope Policy paper no 19 (WellfareWealthWork)
Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities Europe moving towards a new path of economic growth and social development – Collaborative project