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Keynote by Jeroen van den Bergh at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “Climate Change and Economic Crisis: Is prosperity possible without growth?”

Abstract:In recent debates on environmental problems and policies the strategy of “degrowth” has appeared as an alternative to the paradigm of economic growth. This new notion is critically evaluated by considering five interpretations of it. It is next argued that “agrowth”, i.e. being indifferent about growth, is a more logical social aim to substitute for the current goal of economic growth, given that GDP (per capita) is a very imperfect indicator of social welfare. The resulting six views are compared along four criteria, namely environmental effectiveness, social‐political feasibility, economic efficiency and risk of rebound. The paper ends with proposing a policy package that consists of six elements, some of which relate to concerns expressed by degrowth proponents.