Providing decent living with minimum energy: a global scenario

It is increasingly clear that averting ecological breakdown will require drastic changes to contemporary human society and the global economy embedded within it. On the other hand, the basic material needs of billions of people across the planet remain unmet. Here, we develop a simple, bottom-up model to estimate a practical minimal threshold for the final energy consumption required to provide decent material livings to the entire global population. We find that global final energy consumption in 2050 could be reduced to the levels of the 1960s, despite a population three times larger. However, such a world requires a massive rollout of advanced technologies across all sectors, as well as radical demand-side changes to reduce consumption – regardless of income – to levels of sufficiency. Sufficiency is, however, far more materially generous in our model than what those opposed to strong reductions in consumption often assume.

Global Environmental Change, vol.65, November 2020

Housing for Degrowth: Principles, Models, Challenges and Opportunities

This groundbreaking collection on housing for degrowth addresses key challenges of unaffordable, unsustainable and anti-social housing today, including going beyond struggles for a ‘right to the city’ to a ‘right to metabolism’, advocating refurbishment versus demolition, and revealing controversies within the degrowth movement on urbanisation, decentralisation and open localism. International case studies show how housing for degrowth is based on sufficiency and conviviality, living a ‘one planet lifestyle’ with a common ecological footprint.

This book explores environmental, cultural and economic housing and planning issues from interdisciplinary perspectives such as urbanism, ecological economics, environmental justice, housing studies and policy, planning studies and policy, sustainability studies, political ecology, social change and degrowth. It will appeal to students and scholars across a wide range of disciplines.

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Connecting degrowth to Epicurean hedonism: pleasure as a political ethics of limits

Presentation [part of the standard session “Limits, Ethics, Unsustainability and Change“]

The session will explore the relations between Epicurean hedonism and degrowth, showing how such connection has the potential to enrich and refine degrowth transformative proposal of a frugal society based on shared simple pleasures, relational goods and friendship, leisure, idleness and dépense.

Presenters: Roberto Sciarelli (Centre for Social Studies – University of Coimbra)

Language: English with German translation

Technical details: Standard A5_Roberto SCIARELLI_Connecting degrowth to Epicurean hedonism_ pleasure as a political ethics of limits.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 44.0MB

This is a link to a torrent video file. By clicking on ‘external content’ you will be opening a magnet link that will allow you to download the corresponding video with a torrent client. To learn more about downloading torrents see here.

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Limits, Ethics, Unsustainability and Change

Standard session (discussion following 4 presentations)

  1. The Awesome Life: Why Degrowthers Need to Talk about the Feeling of Entropy – video
    Critical views of consumerism are widely shared among degrowthers. However, there is a risk of overlooking a particular affective dimension of consumption: the ‘entropic feeling’. The latter is triggered when we surpass the biophysical limits of our human body and come to enjoy the pleasures of dense energy, e.g. when we drive cars or drink coffee. Taking a critical and re-constructive stance towards what we call the ‘awesome life’ might increase the affective and strategic capacity of degrowth.
    Presenters: Michael Deflorian, Karoline Kalke
  2. Connecting degrowth to Epicurean hedonism: pleasure as a political ethics of limits – video
    The session will explore the relations between Epicurean hedonism and degrowth, showing how such connection has the potential to enrich and refine degrowth transformative proposal of a frugal society based on shared simple pleasures, relational goods and friendship, leisure, idleness and dépense.
    Presenters: Roberto Sciarelli
  3. Cosmologies of Growth and Degrowth
    Growth cannot be unseated as a paramount goal without wrestling with its cosmological foundations, the way that fantasies of continuous expansion are woven into the narratives and myths that organize modern life. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork in India, I sketch an alternative cosmology of degrowth, one that roots the possibility of a livable future in the truth of impermanence. Decay is an essential principle of ecological livelihood, a way to cultivate awareness of our human finitude.
    Presenters: Anand Pandian
  4. Dépense as a degrowth strategy – video
    This presentation will discuss the usefulness of both the concept and the practice of dépense for the degrowth project, and will make suggestions on how to frame proposals based on it for the purposes of informing a transition to a degrowth society.
    Presenters: Oxana Lopatina

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: Standard A5_Limits, Ethics, Unsustainability and Change_trimmed.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 441.7MB

This is a link to a torrent video file. By clicking on ‘external content’ you will be opening a magnet link that will allow you to download the corresponding video with a torrent client. To learn more about downloading torrents see here.

The Simpler Way: Collected Writings of Ted Trainer

Ted Trainer is an Australian scholar-activist who for decades has been defending and practising an ‘eco-anarchist’ perspective he describes as the Simpler Way. His vision is of a world where self-governing communities live materially simple but sufficient lives, in harmony with ecological limits.

This anthology contains some of Trainer’s most insightful and provocative essays, covering all aspects of his challenging but inspiring vision of a just and sustainable society. Topics include a radical critique of consumer-capitalism, the need for fundamental system change, and a transition theory based on building a new society within the shell of the old. Trainer also presents detailed descriptions of the Simpler Way society based on low energy requirements; explains why frugal but sufficient material living standards are necessary to live within planetary limits; and shows why technology alone is unable to resolve environmental problems. He also shares strategic advice on how to contribute positively to societal change, while also critically engaging some green and left strategies. Far from involving deprivation and hardship, Trainer argues that a Simpler Way society would enable liberation to a much higher quality of life for all.

As the first collection of Trainer’s work, this book gives due attention to one of Australia’s most insightful, but under-appreciated, thinkers.

Life within Planetary Boundaries, Agroforestry (Part 2)

Original title: Leva inom planetgränserna del 2, Agroforestry

How can we meet our basic human needs, while improving the health of the ecosystems that we are part of? In this part 2 of the film, some of Sweden’s and England’s leading pioneers in Agroforestry explain how we, through our food production, can play a key role in healing ecosystems, creating food security, new jobs and an improved quality of life. In fact – we are the ones that we have been waiting for! A huge THANK YOU for your contribution to the film: Phlipp Weiss, Johanna Björklund, Martin Wolfe, Martin Crawford, Sanya Falkenstrand, Dante Hellström and others.

Said about the film, “I love the idea that humans are NOT just hopeless parasites but could also be the agent of change for good … It’s a great movie, I really enjoyed it – and it’s so full of hope.” – Jeremy Gugenheim, Outhouse Filmworks.

Hur kan vi tillgodose våra mänskliga grundbehov samtidigt som vi stärker hälsan i de ekosystem som vi är en del av? I denna del 2 av filmen berättar några av Sveriges och Englands främsta pionjärer inom Agroforestry hur vi genom vår maproduktion kan få en nyckelroll i att läka ekosystem, skapa matsäkerhet, jobb och ökad livskvalité. Vi är helt enkelt de vi har väntat på! Ett gigantiskt TACK för er medverkan: Phlipp Weiss, Johanna Björklund, Martin Wolfe, Martin Crawford, Sanya Falkenstrand, Dante Hellström med flera.

Sagt om filmen, “I love the idea that humans are NOT just hopeless parasites but could also be the agent of change for good…It is a great film, I really enjoyed it – and it is so full of hope” – Jeremy Gugenheim, Outhouse Filmworks.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Weal. The reorientation of well-being

Presentation by György Folk

Degrowth may appear for the majority in the developed world a sacrifice of the human comfort we live in, a loss of the present standard of life or well-being. Weal proposes a radical reorientation of our understanding about the human good. Biological and social research produced a multitude of partial results that shed light on how humans live well. Equating the level of production, consumption or happiness with well-being becomes more and more problematic.

Enhanced sustainability and the improved provisions for the quality of human life seem to be mutually exclusive given the limitless pursuit for economic growth and the finiteness of any earthly system. Endless development as a final good descends from positive incrementalism: the more – the better.

A non-infinite conceptualisation of the human good can be built on evolutionary, anthropological, physiological and psychological evidence on human needs. What makes up for good human existence is shared by all humans as the fundamental factors of liveable human reality. Humans grasp them regardless acculturation, historical period and geographical relatedness. This is a whole, non-dividable and unalterable oneness that human communities with actual livelihoods always live up to. A descriptive understanding yields aspects that are indispensable for well-living. A limited set of aspects will suffice to map this human whole(some)ness.

Weal is conceived as a oneness approachable by eight cardinal needs, each satisfiable by elementary satisfiers. Weal is operationalised as a domain in multidimensional space between the extremes of drastic insufficiency and harmful excess.

Old Man on a Bike: a story of how cycling keeps us all young

Mark Cramer, commentator on the subject of cycling into later life and best practice infrastructure has released a new book filled with incredible stories of how cycling contributes positively to society the world over.

Post-Growth Conference, Brussels 2018 – Workshop Squaring the Energy Circle

Chair: Florent Marcellesi, MEP (Greens/EFA)
Panellists: Mario Giampietro (Research Professor at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)), Grégoire Wallenborn (Free University of Brussels (ULB)), Francesco Ferioli (European Commission, DG Energy, Policy Officer in the Economic Analysis Unit)

Post-Growth Conference, Brussels 2018 – Workshop Energy Sufficiency

Chair: Molly Scott-Cato, MEP (Greens/EFA)
Panellists: Riccardo Mastini (Friends of the Earth Europe, campaigner Resource justice and sustainability), Blake Alcott (Cambridge University, Author of The Jevons Paradox and the Myth of Resource Efficiency Improvements), Fulvia Raffaëlli (European Commission, DG GROW, Head of Unit responsible for Clean Technologies and Products), Philippe Tulkens (European Commission, DG Research & Innovation, Energy Directorate, Deputy Head of Unit), Peter Zapfel (European Commission, DG CLIMA, ETS Policy Development and Auctioning)

Desacoplamiento de la realidad

La validez de la narrativa del crecimiento verde queda muy tocada tras la publicación de un nuevo detallado y riguroso informe científico. El tiempo se agota y la piedra angular de la propuesta del establishment no se ha demostrado como viable en ninguna circunstancia de forma relevante.

El Diario, July 8th 2019, Opinión y Blogs

When green growth is not enough

In recent years, the concept of green economic growth, i.e. the expansion of the economy without an accompanying increase in environmental harm, has gained political acceptance. However, the idea that this policy alone is enough to deal with the environmental challenges we face appears to be founded on little to no scientific basis.

META, the news channel of the European Environmental Bureau

 

Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability

Is it possible to enjoy both economic growth and environmental sustainability?

This question is a matter of fierce political debate between green growth and post-growth advocates. Considering what is at stake, a careful assessment to determine whether the scientific foundations behind this decoupling hypothesis are robust or not is needed.

This report reviews the empirical and theoretical literature to assess the validity of this hypothesis. The conclusion is both overwhelmingly clear and sobering: not only is there no empirical evidence supporting the existence of a decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures on anywhere near the scale needed to deal with environmental breakdown, but also, and perhaps more importantly, such decoupling appears unlikely to happen in the future.

‘Decoupling debunked’ highlights the need for the rethinking of green growth policies and to complement efficiency with sufficiency.

An Anarchism for Today: The Simpler Way

Abstract: A sustainable and just world cannot be achieved without enormous structural and cultural change. The argument presented below is that when our situation is understood in terms of resource and ecological limits, it is evident firstly that getting rid of capitalism is not sufficient. A satisfactory alternative society cannot be highly industrialised or centralised, and it must involve highly self-sufficient local economies and largely self-governing communities that prioritise cooperation and participation. Above all, there must be degrowth to a far lower GDP per capita than that exists in rich countries today, with a concomitant embracing of very frugal material “living standards.” Only a basically anarchist society can meet these conditions satisfactorily. Secondly, given this goal the transition to it can only be achieved via an anarchist strategy. Both these themes point to the need for substantial rethinking of essential elements in mainstream socialist and Marxist theory.

Capitalism Nature Socialism, June 2018

Pierre Rabhi : La croissance est un problème, pas une solution

Dans cette vidéo, Pierre Rabhi répond à quelques questions sur notre société, telles que: les crises actuelles vont-elles permettre de remettre en question le système dans lequel nous vivons ? L’écologie semble aujourd’hui avoir été écartée du débat politique. Pourquoi ? D’où peut venir le changement? Changer les règles du jeu démocratique… pour aller vers quoi ?

L’écrivain agriculteur répond en toute simplicité, mettant en avant l’importance de la consommation frugale, se limitant aux besoins de base. Il souligne aussi le role majeur de l’éducation et de la société civile pour un changement de notre société actuelle qu’il qualifie de “carcérale”.

“La vraie puissance est non pas dans les comptes en banque, mais dans la capacité humaine à se contenter de peu et à produire de la joie”