Path to a sustainable economy | Letters
George Monbiot (“Green Growth” Doesn’t Exist – Less Than Everything is the Only Way to Avoid Disaster, September 29) has been writing more or less the same article for years, but he rarely offers practical solutions. It is true that unhindered economic growth on a finite planet cannot continue, and politicians who offer us continued growth but along a “green path” are either spurious – dangerously deceptive – or simply lying. But “doing less of almost everything” is too simplistic an answer.
Monbiot recognizes that wealth must be distributed, but he does not say how. And as long as what we use is unevenly distributed, any measures designed to achieve that goal are potentially unfair. Fortunately, the alternatives are not the limitless growth that is already destroying the planet, or some kind of green dystopia in which people’s lives, numbers and consumption are tightly controlled. There is a third path, involving, for example, the wider adoption of ideas that underpin the ‘community wealth building’ approach by Preston City Council and the Center for Local Economic Strategies, and various new green agreements, and which can be summed up as “local production for local needs”.
The best description of how such a society would operate on a practical basis is still William Morris’s great novel News from Nowhere, published in 1890-1891, and I recommend that Monbiot read it as soon as possible.
Dr Patrick O’Sullivan
Co-editor, William Morris & News from Nowhere
George Monbiot’s claim that “there is no such thing as green growth” is unnecessary. The economy is a collection of social institutions designed to improve life. The current set is distorted by the concern to increase the speed at which money changes hands. This may be the only possible economic criterion in Boris Johnson’s mind, but others are available.
Two options which coexist happily are the solidarity economy and the welfare economy. Both value well-being, social justice and sustainability. Green growth occurs when well-being and solidarity increase – intergenerational solidarity, of course, implies sustainability. Could we not therefore think positively about growth, but in a different direction from that which the conventional economy directs us?