Charting The Path To The Global Transition To A Green Economy

Tim Jenkins, Director of the Great Transition nef (the new economics foundation) and Andrew Simms, nef Fellow

Paper Summary

Two decades after the Earth Summit in 1992, attempts to govern, sustainably, the global environment and manage the world economy without destabilising crises, are hopelessly disconnected. Since the original Earth Summit conference we have lived with an economic model based on debt-fuelled overconsumption that co-exists with vast levels of poverty and inequality. Comparable dynamics are visible in most economic sectors. Many working in the fields of environment and development now find that systematic problems require a systemic solution.

This paper puts forward 6 challenges to lay the foundations for systemic change:

  • Develop a national transition plan that puts countries on paths to operate within planetary boundaries, and on timescales sufficiently quick to preserve key, ecological life support functions;
  • Don’t start from a growth perspective;
  • Agree to develop and implement new measures of economic success;
  • Commit to reduce income and wealth inequalities between and within nations;
  • Put fiscal policy and public expenditure centre stage in managing economic transition; and
  • Recapture the financial sector for the public good.

Other worlds are possible but the task is to shape and fashion them in the course of the next decade before ‘business-as-usual’ locks in catastrophic climatic upheaval.

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