Over-consumption and affluence need to be addressed to solve the climate crisis, according to a new report that was published today (June 19).
In the report, a team of international researchers, including scientists at the University of Leeds, have highlighted the danger of growth-oriented economies and the pursuit of affluence when it comes to the climate crisis.
The researchers have said that ‘green or sustainable growth’ is a myth and technology will not be able to keep up with the increasing environmental impacts caused by economic and population growth.
According to the report, the world’s most affluent citizens are responsible for most environmental impacts and are therefore central to any future prospect of retreating to safer conditions. However, the scientists have highlighted that responsibility for change doesn’t just sit with individuals and that broader structural and economic changes are needed.
Co-author Julia Steinberger, professor of ecological economics in the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds, said: ‘To protect ourselves from the worsening climate crisis, we must reduce inequality and challenge the notion that riches, and those who possess them, are inherently good.
‘In the UK, we see that our government’s fixation on economic growth is continually standing in the way of effective action on existential threats, from the climate crisis to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘The benefits of focusing on well-being and bolstering social programmes is supported by extensive research. A shift to well-being economics is long overdue – indeed Scotland and Wales have already joined the Wellbeing Economy Alliance.’
Lead author of the study, Professor Tommy Wiedmann from the University of New South Wales, Australia added: ‘The key conclusion from our review is that we cannot rely on technology alone to solve existential environmental problems – like climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – but that we also have to change our affluent lifestyles and reduce overconsumption, in combination with structural change.’
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