Roberto A. Arrucha's post

Sharing my thoughts from the key presentations on todays #BeyondGrowth summit in #Brussels. A space that brings some of the best minds in the world to discuss alternatives to purely economic growth. As I have stated in previous texts, the idea of #Degrowth sounds super nice and all, but its idealistic concepts only applies for the imagination. On the other hand, the idea of #BeyondGrowth should be welcomed and discussed in policy level, thus allow us to design a better concept of growth, that should include economics. Rethinking growth of course, has been a political idea that has attracted more sympathies in the polluters world (A better term for the so called developed world); However, it is not welcomed, and it should not be, in the non-polluters world (the so called developing countries as the polluters world love to call them). And the arguments are pretty simple, the polluters world account for more than 80% of the historic CO2 emissions, and despite this, polls confirm that while they worry more about having a sustainable lifestyle, 75% of the polluters world are not willing to reduce their emissions if that means changing lifestyle. Thus, it is crystal clear, that energy security, food security, and wellbeing, can only be achievable by increasing economic growth, which implies a more energy intensive economy. Today interventions in #Brussels cover exactly these challenges. I share with you some of the best ideas presented today. I summarise (with the help of AI), some of the best ideas from Julia Steinberger, professor of ecological economics at the University of Lausanne. Addressing demand is crucial for climate mitigation - there is no way around it. It should be considered an integral part of energy systems thinking. Despite being a taboo in growth-driven economies, reducing demand is essential to meet climate mitigation targets by 2050. But how can we achieve this? Demand reduction is multi-factorial and depends on three elements: technological shifts, behavioural shifts, and massive investments for systemic transition. All three elements are equally important and should be addressed together. When considering individual consumption, it's important to note that systemic change facilitates lifestyle changes. Thus, we should focus on creating an enabling environment instead of making individuals feel guilty for consumption choices that do not fully depend on them. Three facts on energy vs well-being are worth noting: first, more energy does not necessarily equate to better well-being; second, energy levels associated with well-being drop over time; and third, there is a weak causal link between fossil fuel energy and well-being. An additional fact to consider is that energy inequalities, particularly in transportation, also matter. Models have shown that we can achieve Decent Living Energy for all at 40% of current energy use! This requires focusing on sufficiency and efficiency in end use, along with key factors such as public services and investments, reducing inequalities and overconsumption, and promoting post-growth economies. It's also important to recognize the role of history - our governance systems have developed around fossil fuels for the last 200 years. Addressing fossil fuels means touching the fundamentals of these systems and eradicating fossil-based growth dependency and endemic corporate capture. This is deeply political. I summarise (with the help of AI), some of the best ideas from Timothée Parrique, a researcher who has written extensively on the subject of decoupling economic growth from resource consumption and environmental degradation. In his presentation, he identifies three types of decoupling ideas that can be implemented to address these issues. 1. Relative decoupling: This approach involves reducing the rate of resource use per unit of economic growth. In other words, the goal is to increase efficiency and productivity so that we can achieve economic growth while using fewer resources. This could involve using more energy-efficient technologies, reducing waste, or optimizing supply chains to reduce transportation-related emissions. 2. Absolute decoupling: Absolute decoupling is more ambitious than relative decoupling. It involves reducing the total amount of resources that we use while maintaining economic growth. This could involve transitioning to renewable energy sources, implementing circular economy models that prioritize reuse and recycling, or developing new technologies that can reduce the overall consumption of resources. 3. Social-ecological decoupling: The third type of decoupling that Parrique identifies is social-ecological decoupling. This approach involves separating human well-being from resource use and environmental impacts. In other words, the goal is to find ways to improve human well-being without relying on the consumption of non-renewable resources or the degradation of natural ecosystems. This could involve investing in education and healthcare, promoting sustainable agriculture and food systems, or developing alternative methods of transportation and urban planning that prioritize public health and environmental sustainability. Jason Hickel, a very well know decolonizer, lays out a concrete post-growth deal: Universal basic services + job guarantee + scaling down of unnecessary wasteful industries + cancelling unpayable debt in the global south. I close by quoting my favourite interventions: ""This is not gravity. It was made to happen through colonialism, imperialism and the capitalism of the last few centuries" by Farhana Sultana, Professor at the Syracuse University. "The ecological problem began with the colonial problem." our very well known Dr. Vandana Shiva, a warrior for the defence of our mother earth, which received a standing ovation during her intervention. “If the degrowth movement does not stand in meaningful solidarity with decolonial movements in the global south, its bullshit” Research Prof Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved", co-director of "The Ants & The Grasshopper" You can check the summit agenda and full interventions here:

  • mercy nduta

    56 w


    • Kevin

      56 w


      • Jengaj John

        56 w


        • Sarah Chabane

          56 w

          Thank you for sharing! I followed a bit online but I am sad I missed being there!

          • Harrison wambui

            56 w


            • Markus Lutteman

              56 w

              Very interesting read. Thanks for this, @arrucha.

              • Annett Michuki..

                56 w

                this is amazing

                • Ingmar Rentzhog

                  56 w

                  Thanks for sharing. This conference is a step in the right direction. We really need to discuss this topic at the highest level!

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