Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Between conversion and automotive consensus. Results of a transdisciplinary research project on the role of employees in the transformation of Austrian automotive industry


In this Special Session, results of the CON-LABOUR research project will be presented, which during more than two years explored the opportunities and challenges of a social-ecological transformation in the Austrian automotive industry from the perspective of employees and their representations. We provide insight into the political economy of Austrian supplier industry and reflect on the political and institutional framework conditions for a successful transformation. The main part of the presentation offers insights into the employees’ perceptions of crisis and transformation, which were obtained through qualitative interviews with works councils and trade unions. We argue that a focus on employees is central to counteract the antagonism of climate protection and safeguarding of jobs, as well as to increase the legitimacy of transformation processes in the industrial workforce.

Presenters: Melanie Pichler (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), Markus Wissen (Berlin School of Economics and Law), Nora Krenmayr (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

Language: English with German translation

Technical details: WS G2.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 352MB

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A degrowth perspective on the coronavirus crisis

This letter will consider three points in detail: first, how the COVID-19 crisis is by no means degrowth; second, how COVID-19 shows that degrowth is needed; and finally, why COVID-19 indicates the potential for a degrowth transformation.

Visions for Sustainability, vol. 14, december 2020

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Transformation by design?

Presentation [part of the standard session “Transformation, Design and Utopias“]

The central question of socio-ecological transformation is whether it will take place “by design” or “by disaster” (Sommer/Welzer 2014:27). In the discourse this question is rhetorically answered with “by design”. But what role does design play in social-ecological transformation? The lecture will present growth-related problems in design and give an overview of two main strategies. It deals with both: The challenges design has to face in a time of social-ecological crises, but also with its potential. All will be in reference to the student-organized teaching project “Degrow Design!” and the resulting publication.

Presenters: Antonia Ney (Student. Lehrkraft WiSem2019 Bauhaus-Universität Weimar), Joy-Fabienne Lösel (Student. Lehrkraft WiSem2019 Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

Language: English

Technical details: Standard T1_Fabienne Lösel & Antonia Ney_Transformation by design_.mp4, MPEG-4 video,  629MB

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Pandemic Solidarity: Mutual Aid during the Covid-19 Crisis

In times of crisis, when institutions of power are laid bare, people turn to one another. Pandemic Solidarity collects firsthand experiences from around the world of people creating their own narratives of solidarity and mutual aid in the time of the global crisis of COVID-19.

The world’s media was quick to weave a narrative of selfish individualism, full of empty supermarket shelves and con-men. However, if you scratch the surface, you find a different story of community and self-sacrifice. Looking at eighteen countries and regions, including India, Rojava, Taiwan, South Africa, Iraq and North America, the personal accounts in the book weave together to create a larger picture, revealing a universality of experience.

Moving beyond the present, these stories reveal what an alternative society could look like, and reflect the skills and relationships we already have to create that society, challenging institutions of power that have already shown their fragility.

Beyond economics-as-usual: treating a crisis like a crisis

In this new report, the authors try to get a grip on what it takes for the economics profession to treat the climate crisis like the crisis it is. For that, we interviewed nine leading economists – all coming from different geographies and exposing different levels of optimism about the changes that are possible. They include Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Yanis Varoufakis (Hellenic Parliament), Dimitri Zenghelis (LSE Grantham Research Institute), Jane Kabubo-Mariara (University of Nairobi), David Colander (Middlebury College), Penny Mealy (INET Oxford), Michael Jacobs (University of Sheffield), Claudia Kemfert (German Institute for Economic Research) and Grieve Chelwa (University of Cape Town).

How ‘Degrowth’ Pushes Climate and Well-Being Over GDP

“In recent years, a group of economists, ecologists, and anthropologists has gained attention for trying to overturn a core tenet of economic policy — that growth is good for everyone. Known as the “degrowth” movement, these scholars suggest a reframing of humanity’s goals along ecological lines to address the climate crisis, along with a reconsideration of using gross domestic product as a metric for progress. The upheaval of the coronavirus crisis has added fuel to the debate.”


Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Advancing a Degrowth Agenda in the Corona Crisis

Panel debate

The aim of this panel is to evaluate and discuss degrowth and it’s strategies in direct relation to the current corona crisis. We want to understand how the degrowth community responded so far to the crisis and how degrowth was and is present in recent discussions. The goal is then to identify potential pathways, but also barriers, for bringing forward the degrowth agenda in this time of upheaval. We invited speakers affiliated to different degrowth bodies to evaluate pros and cons of structural changes in the degrowth community and its organization and to discuss concrete ideas of responding to the corona crisis, using the windows that opend up.

Facilitator: Iris Frey
Speakers: Stefania Barca, Matthias Schmelzer, Andro Rilović, Eeva Houtbeckers

Technical details: Corona_Panel.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 607.5MB

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First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Undoing neoliberalism: degrowth as a radical alternative to the global crisis

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Jueves por Bárbara Muraca: “Deshaciendo el neoliberalismo: el decrecimiento como una alternativa radical a la crisis global”

‘The economy’ as if people mattered: revisiting critiques of economic growth in a time of crisis

Coronavirus (COVID-19) policy shut down the world economy with a range of government actions unprecedented outside of wartime. In this paper, economic systems dominated by a capital accumulating growth imperative are shown to have had their structural weaknesses exposed, revealing numerous problems including unstable supply chains, unjust social provisioning of essentials, profiteering, precarious employment, inequities and pollution. Such phenomena must be understood in the context of long standing critiques relating to the limits of economic systems, their consumerist values and divorce from biophysical reality. Critical reflection on the Coronavirus pandemic is combined with a review of how economists have defended economic growth as sustainable, Green and inclusive regardless of systemic limits and multiple crises – climate emergency, economic crash and pandemic. Instead of rebuilding the old flawed political economy again, what the world needs now is a more robust, just, ethical and equitable social-ecological economy.

Globalizations, May 2020

Jevons’ paradox and a tax on aviation to prevent the next pandemic

How is it possible that, in an era of unprecedented medical progress, humanity is once again caught in a major pandemic? Several lines of evidence suggest that advances in infectious diseases control facilitate the development of major urban centers, global high-speed transportation, industrial animal farming and ecosystem destruction. In turn, all of these are well known to favor such diseases, thus reproducing the same kind of dynamic previously observed in resource consumption and known as “Jevons’ paradox”. Such economic developments compel health systems to develop continuously just to maintain the improvements that had already been achieved, which, furthermore, became more difficult with the generalization of neoliberal policies. In this process, progresses whose primary purpose is to benefit everybody’s health are transmuted into benefits for those involved in certain economic activities. This is especially apparent in the case of long-haul aviation, a profitable activity aimed mainly at a high-income minority but playing a unique role in disease transmission. The COVID-19 pandemic is, therefore, one of the most massive cost-shifting events ever. A proposal is presented to prevent comparable if not even more harmful events in the future, with two parts. First, a global fund with base funding from an internationally-agreed tax on aviation, devoted to upgrading health systems and to programs to tackle sources of emerging infectious diseases, especially wild animal trade. Second and no less important, a global agreement to fundamentally transform agri-food systems.

Will COVID-19 Remake the World?

No one should expect the pandemic to alter – much less reverse – tendencies that were evident before the crisis. Neoliberalism will continue its slow death, populist autocrats will become even more authoritarian, and the left will continue to struggle to devise a program that appeals to a majority of voters.

Internationalizing the Crisis

The public-health effects and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in developing and emerging economies are only just becoming apparent, but it is already clear that the toll will be devastating. If the international community wants to avoid a wave of defaults, it must start developing a rescue plan immediately.

Solidarity Economics—for the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond

In light of the Covid-19 crisis, the article by the authors of the book “From Resistance to Renewal: A 12-Step Program for Innovation and Inclusion in the California Economy”, C. Banner and M. Pastor, debunks the granted assumptions of the neoclassical theory, such as self-interested human behavior, the necessity of inequality and growth, trying to pull the threads between between the new possible foundations of our society, “prosperity, security and community”. The point made here is that new socioeconomic challenges must be seen in a new perspective, the one of caring, in which “a commitment to mutuality and to the common good is the right thing to do for both public and economic health”.

Trade Off: Financial system supply-chain cross contagion – a study in global systemic collapse


This study considers the relationship between a global systemic banking, monetary and solvency crisis and its implications for the real-time flow of goods and services in the globalised economy. It outlines how contagion in the financial system could set off semi-autonomous contagion in supply-chains globally, even where buyers and sellers are linked by solvency, sound money and bank intermediation. The cross-contagion between the financial system and trade/production networks is mutually reinforcing.

It is argued that in order to understand systemic risk in the globalised economy, account must be taken of how growing complexity (interconnectedness, interdependence and the speed of processes), the de-localisation of production and concentration within key pillars of the globalised economy have magnified global vulnerability and opened up the possibility of a rapid and large-scale collapse. ‘Collapse’ in this sense means the irreversible loss of socio-economic complexity which fundamentally transforms the nature of the economy. These crucial issues have not been recognised by policy-makers nor are they reflected in economic thinking or modelling.

This study draws upon simple ideas drawn from ecology, systems dynamics, and the study of complex networks to frame the discussion of the globalised economy. Real-life events such as United Kingdom fuel blockades (2000) and the Japanese Tsunami (2011) are used to shed light on modern trade vulnerability.

Academia in the time of Covid-19: Our chance to develop an ethics of care

“In writing this opinion article we hope to encourage thinking about how academics may transform our work ethos now and in the future. This disruptive time can become an opportunity to foster a culture of care, refocus on what is most important, change expectations about the meaning of quality teaching and research, and in doing so make academic practice more respectful and sustainable.”