Decoupling Growth or System Change?

It is becoming ever more clear that something has to change in the way human economic activity takes place and impacts the world around us. The ecological footprint of the world economy is ever increasing – it is by now believed to have reached unsustainable levels. Few people are questioning this. However, so far the (re-)actions to this new challenge have not been adequate – the 17th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Durban last month, where the world leaders failed to agree on a binding framework aiming at tackling anthropogenic climate change, is a prime recent example. Alas, it is not the only one – rather it is the tip of the iceberg. There are many proposals what to do. And it is clear that human economic activity (including consumption) is the main problem. One popular idea is to “decouple” growth from resource use (in a wide sense of the latter). Continue reading