Is continuous global economic growth sustainable

Alternatives to environmentally harmful growth

The prevailing model of continuous economic growth has been criticized for its negative ecological effects. This is by no means new; it has been around for almost as long as economic growth itself.1 In the past 50 years, the first report to the Club of Rome in particular led to a broader social discussion about the “limits to growth” on a planet with finite natural resources.2 The newer growth-critical approaches build on this, expanding the early discussion under catchphrases such as post-growth (de-growth), orientation towards the common welfare (common welfare) or green growth (green growth), but at the same time by adding new perspectives for criticism, but also conceivable solutions to the conflict between growth and the preservation of the environment.3 The explosive nature of the conflict shows the extent to which economic activity has now intervened in natural control cycles, which exceeds existing planetary boundaries and could endanger the continued existence of human civilization itself. 4 Leave the new approaches differ in whether

  1. the conflict of objectives can only be resolved if economic growth is foregone (de-growth or post-growth approaches),
  2. A careful treatment of nature is to be brought about through an ethical realignment of the market economy (approach of the economy for the common good) or
  3. the possibility of an extensive decoupling of economic growth and environmental consumption is assumed (green growth approaches).

Competition for use and compulsion to grow

Environmental damage is usually viewed as the result of economic use of environmental goods. They are caused by production and consumption as well as the uptake of pollutants within the existing environmental media (air, water, soil) .5 From an economic point of view, the associated conflict of objectives is not unusual, since economic growth and environmental protection are each associated with opportunity costs: an increase in the amount of Given the given technical knowledge, goods and services mean that other activities, such as a more careful approach to the environment, cannot be pursued any further. If the environmental quality is to be increased, this can only be done under the given conditions by doing without other goods or by increasing them quantitatively. As long as environmental goods were in abundance and thus their scope and their capacity for assimilation were very large, their economic use was not a problem. A problem only arises when environmental goods become scarce and there is competition in terms of their conflicting uses.6

The conflict thesis states that (quantitative) economic growth is increasingly polluting the environment due to the increasing consumption of energy and raw materials as well as pollutant emissions. On the other hand, it is feared that increased environmental protection affects economic growth to the extent that measures that maintain or improve environmental quality can be at the expense of other possible investments that increase production potential. In terms of allocation theory, it is necessary to weigh up all the advantages and disadvantages of environmental protection measures - also with regard to the growth target.

On the one hand, however, it must be taken into account that, according to the postulate of sustainable development, not only the needs of the current generation are the benchmark, but also the impairment of the livelihood of future generations. On the other hand, it is important for the content dimension of the conflict of interests that economic growth is characterized by a high level of momentum. One cause of this system-inherent “expansion compulsion” 7 can be seen in the market competition, within which on the one hand the consumers - often spurred on by advertising measures on the part of the providers - are looking for quantitative and qualitative better ways of satisfying needs and on the other hand the companies in order to gain competitive advantages Invest in the invention and manufacture of new products and the introduction of more productive or cost-saving production processes. This inherent logic of increase is reinforced by the credit creation and interest system typical of market economies, whereby in the case of credit-financed investments the associated earnings expectations can only be met through the need for economic growth. The investors then have to generate profits in order to be able to service the loans previously taken out, including the associated interest. The logic of increasing economic growth causes "in the present almost inevitably an escalation and exacerbation of ecological crises" 8.

Insufficient internalization of external effects

The growth-related overexploitation of environmental goods can also be characterized as an “externality problem.” 9 Since economic growth is associated with high energy intensity and extensive consumption of natural resources, negative external (environmental) effects are a typical side effect of a growth society. They arise from a divergence between private and social marginal costs in the production or consumption of goods and services. In accordance with the logic of the market, the allocation of scarce resources is based on the relative price structure and thus follows the path of cost-minimal resource consumption. The costs of production and consumption are, in turn, lowest where the total opportunity costs (i.e. including negative external effects) are not factored in. The polluters are not confronted with the social costs, as these cannot be automatically billed via the price mechanism. In economic literature, the term “market failure” is often used, even if the neglect of such negative externalities is not caused directly by the market, but rather due to a lack of property rights and rights of disposal. However, in the absence of institutional regulations that ensure that negative externalities are internalized, environmental damage does not find its way into the price and cost considerations of companies and private households.

The lack of consideration of environmental damage and its costs in the economic calculation of the polluters can be attributed to the fact that environmental goods have the typical properties of public goods. These are characterized by the fact that the principle of exclusion cannot be applied, i.e. H. a private provider would not be able to achieve cost-covering prices for such goods, since - once provided - nobody can be excluded from the use of these goods by exclusive property rights. The life-sustaining function of the ozone layer or the natural greenhouse effect are examples of this. Conflicts of use can lead to the overexploitation of natural resources, as there is no (institutional) incentive for a careful use of the environmental goods concerned due to a lack of property rights.10 Since economic growth exacerbates the problem of overexploitation, it is not surprising that renouncing growth is a possible solution Problem is seen.

Considerations for a post-growth economy

There are many considerations for shaping a post-growth society, whereby a broad distinction can be made between approaches based on social reform, critical of capitalism, and sufficiency-oriented approaches.11 Even if each with a different focus, what these approaches have in common is that the possibility of environmentally compatible growth is fundamentally called into question. Rather, it is assumed that, while maintaining the traditional growth paradigm and the associated increasing demand for goods and services, even if the existing potential for efficient production and logistics is fully exploited, global energy and resource consumption will not be reduced to the required level for realization sustainable development can be reduced.

A decoupling of economic activities from the consumption of environmental goods requires not only more technical efficiency, but also improved recycling systems, but above all a fundamentally changed consumer behavior. Otherwise, especially in a growth economy, there is a constant risk that advances in saving material and energy and, in relation to the “greening” of value chains, will be consumed again by increases in demand (rebound effects ).12 From this perspective, there is a decoupling of economic growth and the consumption of natural resources is now and will not be considered possible in the future. Rather, effective protection of the natural environment requires a radical departure from the development path geared towards economic expansion.

In addition, it is argued in favor of such a departure that the increases in prosperity of the past decades are not primarily due to innovation potential and efficiency gains based on division of labor, but were made possible by the unlimited and cost-minimal availability of energy sources. However, this growth-driving factor is increasingly reaching its limits, since the demand for energy is constantly rising due to a growing world population combined with an increase in purchasing power for the global middle class.13 If the problems of a growth economy are to be avoided, a fundamental change in direction is required. The liberation from components of the currently practiced lifestyle is seen as essential, which, although they require a great deal of resources (time, money, space, natural resources), but (should) only provide minimal benefits. The aim is to limit existing consumption claims to the possibilities of sustainable satisfaction (sufficiency strategy). Also, only those supply structures are considered to be ecologically and socially stable that have a small distance between manufacturers and consumers. Existing needs are to be increasingly served through regional markets and shortened value chains. Associated with this is the demand for (re-) activation of competencies and manual skills in order to increasingly satisfy existing needs beyond the market-mediated division of labor through in-house production.

Demands and ambiguities

The transition to a post-growth economy is based “on two pillars: an individual strategy of sufficiency combined with a radical decline in external supply in favor of regional and local economies, self-sufficiency and self-production” 14. It is true that reference is made to the necessary political flanking of the entire transformation process through institutional reforms.15 However, the mere introduction of individual CO2 balances - as proposed - does not contribute to a fundamental solution to the institutional dimension of the trade-off between growth and the environment, as it remains unclear how Beyond the climate problem, further ecological externalities can be internalized. Rather, the solution to the conflict of goals is primarily located at the personal level: the “most important actors in change” should be prosumers, i. H. "People who not only consume less, but also work together, for example. B. in repair shops to extend the service life of existing products, develop forms of in-house production [...] and thus promote localization and de-commercialization ”16.

With this vision of a lifestyle characterized by lower consumption and increased self-production, it remains unclear how private actors should be motivated to do so. The primary focus here is on subjective clarification and individual insight that a growth economy must inevitably lead to undesirable consumption of resources and harmful emissions. Even if this demand for a different lifestyle is intended to overcome the pressure to grow, it remains to be seen how the competition for use for environmental goods can be defused through education and insight alone.

Limits of awareness-induced behavioral changes

For a strategy of education and self-commitment, the population group that is most likely to come into question is that of a high level of education (mostly paired with a high income). In this population group - at least in Germany - there is an increasing number of people who have a positive environmental attitude, have a greater tendency to classify their way of life as resource-saving and intend to keep their consumption of environmental goods low.17 However, it is noteworthy that with increasing (formal ) Educational level and higher income level also increases the personal consumption of total resources, d. H. the consumption values ​​are particularly high in those “social milieu segments with widespread positive environmental attitudes” 18. An empirical study in which the relationship between disposable income and material footprint was examined for Germany comes to a similar conclusion. 19

Environment-related attitude research speaks of a “knowledge-behavior gap” or an “attitude-behavior gap ”.20 Competing values ​​(comfort, prestige) as well as“ corrupting ”living conditions (prosperity, convenience) then ensure behavioral routines and a Meaning structure influencing action, which is closer to everyday life than the existing environmental awareness. Against this background, it must be doubted whether a strategy based primarily on education to resolve the conflict between growth and the environment can be viable. The regional markets propagated from the point of view of the post-growth approach or the required more in-house production should only make a limited contribution to the internalization of undesirable environmental externalities. In order to ensure the necessary degree of “true cost”, rights to act in relation to all environmental media (soil, water, air) and pollutant inputs (emissions) that are regarded as relevant must be comprehensively redesigned in order to price environmental damage in an incentive-compatible manner.

Finally, the understanding of progress in at least some of the representatives of a post-growth economy can also be viewed as problematic. One criticism is the idea that a controlled economy will already produce the essential innovations in order to bring about a transformation towards an economy characterized by emission reduction and sustainability. The mere statement that market-mediated economic growth, which in the past has led to considerable environmental damage, can only be overcome in the future by using the market to a limited extent as a coordination mechanism for economic activity, overlooks the function of market competition as a discovery process for the creation of innovations. These can contribute to an increased harmonization of economic and sustainability interests. In contrast, more economic governance can hardly overcome the misallocation of environmental goods.

Realization of an economy for the common good

In contrast to the post-growth economy, the concept of an economy for the common good is characterized by the fact that growth and the environment are not interpreted as an insoluble conflict. Rather, both target values ​​can be integrated through an ethical transformation of the market economy in the sense of a growth policy that is compatible with the common good. In essence, a change in economic values ​​is required in order to reconcile both target figures. With a view to the proposed reform measures, the boundary to the postulates and demands of post-growth theorists is not always clear. For example, reference is made to the need for “an independent, local market-oriented supply of places and regions” while at the same time curbing the existing “dominance of the world market” .21 Probably the best-known concept of an economy for the common good comes from Christian Felber, hence the following The main focus of the remarks is on his draft.22 It is demanded that the market economy should be based on the (ethical) values ​​and goals of democratically constituted states (equal rights and opportunities, avoidance of excessive social inequality, use of property for the common good, preservation of natural resources).

A central component of this concept is the change in the legal and financial incentive framework. Thereafter, the pursuit of profit and competition should no longer be rewarded, but the common good and cooperation. The aim is to measure economic success in terms of the satisfaction of needs, quality of life and the common good instead of financial profit or return on investment.To this end, a company's financial balance sheet is to be replaced by a balance sheet for the common good, which takes into account a large number of indicators on human dignity, solidarity and justice, ecological sustainability as well as transparency and participation. Through the financial support of companies with a comparatively positive public good balance - so the intention - ethically compatible, ecologically compatible as well as regional products and services experience an effective competitive advantage over unethical, less ecological and globally traded products. Appropriate incentives can be tax relief, lower customs duties, low-interest loans, favorable treatment in public tenders or in business promotion measures.

In addition to market-compliant incentive instruments, a redesign of the regulatory framework is required. This includes, for example, the implementation of legal regulations, whereby the use of corporate profits is to be channeled in favor of investments with social and ecological added value. In order to achieve a low-consumption, sufficient and ecologically sustainable lifestyle, the amount of gainful employment should be legally limited. In turn, more equality of income and assets is to be achieved through a statutory cap on labor and profit income.23 Corresponding legislative proposals would have to be drawn up by an economic convention, on which a direct democratic decision is then to be made.

Change of behavior through incentive control

Since the goal of profit maximization takes a back seat in an economy for the common good, companies should no longer be subject to the general pressure to grow. Such a system is linked to reducing the ecological footprint of people, companies and states to a sustainable level, since "natural consumption and material resources, [...] their efficient use and conservation have become part of the new goal" 24 . Growth and environmental protection experience greater integration and are therefore no longer in conflict with one another - that is the basic idea.

In contrast to the post-growth approach, the focus is more on categories of incentives and the design of the economic and political framework and less on those of ecological education and individual self-commitment. Thinking in terms of incentives is exemplified by the proposed reforms to the corporate tax system, which is to be transformed into a financial reward system for sustainability-oriented economic activity. The corporate sector is therefore an essential addressee for the ecological transformation of the economic system and not, for example, private households or consumer behavior. Thinking in terms of incentive and order structures is reflected in the demand for increased citizen participation (direct democracy), which should also apply to the decision-making of companies in key areas of services of general interest (education, health, mobility, energy, communication) and the financial sector Another example of institutional reforms is the required establishment of a fair trade zone with sustainability-oriented product standards and tariffs as well as a globally uniform currency so that the common good cannot be undermined by foreign trade, 26 since these are interdependent sub-orders.

Limits of the common good

Even with the concept of economic activity oriented towards the common good, the problem of competition for use for scarce environmental goods and the associated undesirable environmental externalities should be solved through the increased use of cooperative planning and control instruments27 and only to a limited extent with the aid of the decentralized incentive function of the market and competition mechanism.28 Investments through collective Directing certain regulations and restricting profit and income generation as an incentive for new products and production processes, however, is likely to considerably reduce the innovation potential of an economy, also with regard to the solution of environmental problems. The market can then only perform its function as a “competitive discovery process” 29 to a limited extent.

After all, the “core” of the economy for the common good - the balance sheet for the common good - is also problematic, not only because for most companies this form of accounting should not be a relevant alternative course of action. Only very few (small) companies from the social sector with cooperatives, which already implement many of the indicators of the public good balance today, are able to meet the requirements. In addition, the integration of a differentiated reward system into corporate taxation is very complex. This also reflects a lack of understanding of the price mechanism, which in a market economy functions as a simple and effective indicator of the scarcity of goods and resources. Do all opportunity costs flow into the pricing, i. H. If the social costs of environmental consumption are fully factored in by corresponding internalization taxes, a company contributes to the common good out of self-interest and this without certification through a very complex and difficult to draw up common good balance.30

Green growth as another alternative

The approach of green growth can be understood as a reservoir of various theoretical concepts and political initiatives, which are linked by the central idea that sustainable growth is possible if economic development is embedded in ecological guard rails based on environmental goals .31 There is also agreement that a comprehensive ecological modernization of the entire economy is required, whereby in particular the previous consumption of resources, the extent of emissions and the design of products and value chains must be changed. Central importance is attached to the promotion of environmental innovations. This is based on the conception - known early on as the decoupling thesis32 - that substitution processes and savings in natural resources brought about by technical and social innovations can either completely eliminate the conflict of goals between growth and the environment (absolute decoupling) or at least largely (relative decoupling).

The green growth approach does not fundamentally exclude quantitative growth. The decisive factor is whether there is also a reduction in environmental damage, as can be achieved through the use of technological and social innovations in favor of more raw material and energy efficiency and an increase in existing recycling rates. Model-based simulations33 show that not only a relative decoupling of economic growth from environmental consumption, in which environmental pollution increases less than economic output, is possible. Rather, scenarios can also be designed that lead to absolute decoupling, i.e. H. lead to constant or even decreasing negative environmental effects with a simultaneous increase in economic output, as shown, for example, in the context of material flow analyzes for the member states of the EU on the basis of data on (global) material consumption (biomass, metals, non-metallic minerals, fossil fuels) could be. Both the effects of the shift of pollutants through international trade and the expected rebound effects were taken into account. The results of the corresponding simulations largely depend on how “market and state incentives” will be designed in the future and whether “improved state framework legislation” can be implemented.34

Decoupling through innovation and competition

In order to achieve green growth, on the one hand, environmental innovations should be promoted. Innovative behavior in the form of technological innovations, new business models and changed social behavioral practices are considered the key to a sustainable growth process. The central point is that the specified ecological goals strengthen the economy in the medium to long term, also economically in global competition, through a (resource-) efficient and environmentally friendly production method. The economic opportunity contained in effective environmental protection is shown by the example of the green future markets, which are strongly driven by innovation and for which (even further) increasing value creation is expected.35 A far-reaching restructuring of the institutional incentive structures is essential for the promotion of ecological investments Without, however, calling into question the fundamental progressive function of the market and competitive process. 36

In addition, legal and market-related barriers that hinder environmental innovations and green business models are to be dismantled. There is also demand for (massive) taxation of economic activities which, due to their extent of negative environmental externalities, can be classified as less sustainable. Furthermore, a significant increase in government spending for green research and development, but also for public risk protection for sustainability-related innovations, is considered expedient. In addition, socio-ecological minimum standards are proposed as well as a change in the property and competition order - the latter in the sense that the handling of property is restricted not only by the rights of third parties, but also by the obligation to preserve environmental goods.37 So should no longer the consumption of environmental goods, but rather their preservation through the market and competition. Although this does not remove the fundamental competition for use for scarce environmental goods, measures such as a more environmentally-related orientation of the taxation system or ecologically motivated competition lawsuits would promote the principle of liability38 (for growth-induced environmental damage), which is an essential part of a market economy.

Importance of technological change

The green growth approach differs from the two approaches discussed above, primarily due to the strong emphasis on environmental innovations, which are intended to serve as a motor for sustainable economic growth. While the advocates of post-growth economics and the economy for the common good tend to underestimate the possible contribution of technological progress to a more careful handling of scarce environmental goods, this does not apply to the considerations of ecologically compatible growth. However, this underestimation is not a new phenomenon, but has a tradition in the history of theory.39 What is overlooked, however, is that, due to product and process innovations, the manufacture of goods and services in the past not only led to an ever decreasing use of resources, which at the same time saved costs could. The generation of new consumer needs was also often associated with the exhaustion of the existing innovation potential. In sum, both effects resulted in a steady expansion of the basis for new economic growth, which the approach of green growth tries to make use of with the aim of decoupling additional value creation and environmental consumption.

With the reform measures aimed at an ecological correction of the previous growth path, the advocates of the green growth idea are also avoiding another problem: In a growthless economy, all investments would only be replacement investments with significantly limited profit potential. This would mean that the production capacity would remain at the given level. Consumer demand would also have to adapt to this stagnating production capacity, which leads to a decline in per capita consumption as the population grows. A corresponding waiver of demand, as called for by the representatives of the post-growth approach, requires a fundamental cultural change, which is currently either difficult to imagine or at least takes a considerable amount of time, as this is associated with a profound change in consumer preferences would. To be effective, as many countries as possible around the world would have to adopt this strategy of slowing down or foregoing economic growth. For developing and emerging countries, however, this is not to be expected due to the existing development gaps, so that a decline in growth could only be practiced by the industrialized countries, which can also be considered unlikely. By contrast, with an economic policy based on green growth, the aforementioned negative effects of a sufficiency strategy are avoided.

Ultimately, this approach also takes into account the insight that in the event of no or significantly slowed growth, the structural change required from an ecological point of view could only be achieved with considerable difficulty. This is not only true because in the shrinking economic sectors, in addition to the resulting wage cuts, structural unemployment would also arise, which could be reduced again at least in the medium to long term through growth in other economic sectors - especially in the area of ​​the green future markets. At least as serious is the fact that a transformation towards an ecologically compatible society requires available capital in the billions. From this perspective, (green) economic growth provides the basis for successfully mastering the necessary transformation process. 40

Need for action for environmentally compatible growth

At the moment, however, it is still unclear whether the ongoing and expected decoupling processes, on which the green growth approach is based, will be sufficient for an ecologically compatible economic system. National decoupling would also be of little help, since undesirable international rebound effects are to be expected in this case.41 For example, national efficiency gains, which lead to falling raw material and energy prices internationally, could lead to increased demand for environmental resources elsewhere. From a global perspective, there would then be no or too little decoupling of growth and environmental consumption.

The skepticism expressed in this about the effectiveness of green growth is also given when it is doubted whether compliance with the planetary load limits can be achieved through eco-innovations alone. Against this background, a double decoupling is currently called for, which aims at a more comprehensive and systemic understanding of innovation.42 While the first decoupling addresses economic growth and environmental consumption that can be achieved through more eco-efficiency through technological innovations, it does the second decoupling around that of quality of life and economic-material growth, which is to be realized through changed consumption patterns and lifestyles. According to this, it is not only necessary to change the formal incentive structures to promote environmental innovations and green future markets. This is a necessary but not yet a sufficient condition for resolving the trade-off between growth and the environment. Rather, a cultural change (Great Mindshift) is required in the sense of a change in existing informal institutions in order to be able to achieve the double decoupling necessary for an effective transformation towards a sustainable economic system.43 Such a cultural change is likely to be protracted due to existing path dependencies Represent process. However, this only underlines that in addition to technical environmental innovations, social innovations aimed at changing lifestyles and consumption patterns are necessary to resolve the conflict of objectives. Deviating from the post-growth and common good approach, the focus should be primarily on the market mechanism and thus entrepreneurial action in the form of sustainable business models44 in order to enable private households to make the transition to more environmentally friendly consumption and behavior (e.g. when it comes to eating habits). and mobility behavior).

  • 1 Cf. for example A. Hussen: Principles of Environmental Economics and Sustainability, 4th ed., London 2018; with reference to the considerations of Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) on the natural limits of economic and population growth.
  • 2 See D. Meadows et al .: The Limits of Growth, New York 1972; for an update of the study see J. Randers: 2052 - A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, White River Junction 2012; for skepticism about permanent growth see N. Georgescu-Roegen: The Entropy Law and Economic Process, Cambridge MA 1971.
  • 3 See representative J. v. d. Bergh, G. Kallis: Growth, A-Growth or Degrowth to Stay within Planetary Boundaries ?, in: Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. XLVI (2012), pp. 909-919; T. Jackson: Prosperity without Growth ?, 2nd ed., London 2017.
  • 4 See J.Foley et al .: Boundaries for a Healthy Planet, in: Scientific American, Volume 302 (2010), pp. 54-57; J. Rockström et al .: Planetary Boundaries - Exploring the Safe Operating Space of Humanity, in: Ecology and Society, 14th year (2009), no.2, Art. 32.
  • 5 Cf. T. Döring, A. E. Töller: Umweltpolitik, in: K. Mause et al. (Ed.): Politics and Economy, Wiesbaden 2018; with further references.
  • 6 Cf. H. Siebert: On the conflict of goals between growth and the environment, in: H. Milde, H. G. Monissen (Ed.): Rationale Wirtschaftsppolitik inverbindliche Gesellschaft, Stuttgart 1985, pp. 385-398; W. Beckerman: Economic Development and the Environment - Conflict or Complementarity ?, Policy Research Working Papers, No. WPS 961, 1992.
  • 7 F. Söllner: Conflict between money and nature ?, in: Ökologisches Wirtschaften, No. 6/1998, p. 20.
  • 8 K. Dörre: Capitalism in the Growth Dilemma, in: WSI-Mitteilungen, 65th year (2013), p. 150.
  • 9 Cf. also M. Leschke: The (future) challenges of the market economy, in: T. Theurl (Ed.): Institutional backgrounds of crises, Berlin 2011, pp. 169-191; see also H. Siebert, op. a. Cit., P. 390.
  • 10 Cf. W. D. Nordhaus: Reflections on the Economics of Climate Change, in: The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7th year (1993), pp. 11-25.
  • 11 Cf. for example T. Jackson, op. a. O.; G. D‘Alissa et al .: Degrowth, London, New York 2014; R. Klingholz: Slaves of Growth, Frankfurt a. M. 2014; U. Bardi: The Plundered Planet, Munich 2013; H. E. Daly: From a failed-growth economy to a steady-state economy, in: Solutions, 1st year (2010), pp. 37-43; J. Martinez-Alier et al .: Sustainable De-Growth, in: Ecological Economics, 69th vol. (2010), pp. 1741-1747; I. Seidl, A. Zahrnt: Postwachstumsgesellschaft, Marburg 2010; F. Adler, U. Schachtschneider: Green New Deal, Sufficiency or Eco-Socialism ?, Munich 2010; H. E. Daly: Beyond Growth, Boston 1996.
  • 12 Cf. for example A. Simms et al .: Growth isn‘t Possible, London 2010.
  • 13 Cf. N. Paech: An economy beyond growth, in: Insights, No. 49 (2009), pp. 24-27; is considered the best-known German representative of the post-growth approach.
  • 14 M. Schmelzer: Beyond economic growth ?, in: ARL-Nachrichten, No. 4/2017, p. 9.
  • 15 Cf. N. Paech: Befreiung vom Überfluss, 3rd ed., Munich 2013, pp. 134 ff. Further institutional reform proposals are the introduction of a regional currency with an interest-free circulation security as well as legal requirements for extending the useful life and intensity of products reduce resource consumption.
  • 16 M. Schmelzer, op. a. Cit., P. 9.
  • 17 See, for example, S. Kleinhückelkotten et al .: Representative survey of per capita consumption of natural resources in Germany (by population group), UBA-Texte, No. 39/2016, Dessau-Roßlau 2016.
  • 18 Ibid, p. 4.
  • 19 If one follows M. A. T. Reaňos, F. Pothen: Wealthy households in Germany consume the most resources, in: ZEW News, May 2018, p. 3; the "quarter of households with the highest household income [...] with an average of 49.29 tons has a material footprint that is more than three times as large as that of the poorest quarter of the German population (16.15 tons)". See also F. Pothen, M. A. T. Reaňos: The Distribution of Material Footprints in Germany, ZEW Discussion Paper, No. 18-022 (2018).
  • 20 Cf. K. Schuster: Lifestyle and Environment, in: E.-D. Lantermann, V. Linneweber (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Psychology - Ecological Psychology, Vol. 1, Göttingen 2008, pp. 691-714.
  • 21 C. Möller, U. Peters: Economics: How and for what? - Community orientation as a characteristic of economic sustainability, in: Ökologisches Wirtschaften, No. 6/1998, pp. 22-24.
  • 22 Cf. C. Felber: Gemeinwohlökonomie, completely updated and expanded edition, Munich 2018; ders .: New values ​​for the economy - An alternative to communism and capitalism, Vienna 2008; C. T. Pintó, S. Palmieri: The Economy for the Common Good, Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee, ECO / 378, Brussels 2015.
  • 23 These demands can also be found in M. Schmelzer, A. Passadakis: Post growth - crisis, ecological limits and social rights, Hamburg 2011; or B. Muraca: Living well - A society beyond growth, Berlin 2014.
  • 24 C. Felber: Economy for the Common Good, a. a. Cit., P. 188 f.
  • 25 Ibid, p. 100.
  • 26 Cf. C. Möller, U. Peters, op. a. O., p. 23; H. Diefenbacher: Let's step out of capitalism, in: Ökologisches Wirtschaften, No. 6/1998, pp. 24-25.
  • 27 C. Felber, op. a. O., p. 65; speaks of a "cooperative market economy" or a "cooperative market control", the framework and procedures of which are to be determined by the decisions of various conventions (economic, public services, media conventions, etc.). In this way, “only those investments would be made that create social and ecological added value” (ibid., P. 51).
  • 28 Ibid., P. 35: "To do this, we would have to 'unbuckle' the legal incentive framework from the false guiding star - the pursuit of profit and competition - and buckle this guiding star that is our majority capable of building trust, cooperation, solidarity, sharing".
  • 29 F. A. von Hayek: The competition as a discovery process, in: F. A. von Hayek (Ed.): Freiburger Studien, Tübingen 1968, pp. 249-265.
  • 30 According to D. Löhr: Economy for the common good: The good force that creates evil - a reply to Gerd Hofielen, December 19, 2016, https://bodenwertsteuer.org/2016/12/19/gemeinwohlokonomie-die-gute-kraft-die- boses-creates-a-replica-on-gerd-hofielen / (20.6.2019), the balance of common good only thrives "on the poisonous bed of price lies that we have today".
  • 31 For an overview of related concepts (Green Economy, Green New Deal, Ecological Market Economy, Blue Economy) see JF Renault, T. Schwietring: Transition to a Green Economy: Necessary structural changes and conditions for successful implementation in Germany, Dessau-Roßlau 2016, p. 47 ff.
  • 32 R.-U. Sprenger: Environment protection and economic growth, in: trade union monthly books, 45th year (1994), pp. 534-542.
  • 33 See S. Giljum et al .: Modeling scenarios towards a sustainable use of natural resources in Europe, in: Environmental Science and Policy, 11th year (2008), pp. 204-216; B. Meyer et al .: Modeling Green Growth and Resource Efficiency: New Results, in: Mineral Economics, Volume 24 (2012), pp. 145-154.
  • 34 R. Bleischwitz: Absolute decoupling is possible, in: Ökologisches Wirtschaften, No. 2/2012, p. 31.
  • 35 See Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety: GreenTech Made in Germany 2018, Berlin 2018, p. 7 f.
  • 36 Global Commission on the Economy and Climate: Better Growth, Better Climate - The New Climate Economy Report, Washington DC 2014, p. 9.
  • 37 C. Dohmen: How much sustainability does the market economy allow ?, 2018, https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/gemeinwohl-oekonomie-wie-viel-nachhaltigkeit-laesst-die.724.de.html?dram:article_id= 412532 (March 11, 2019).
  • 38 On the importance of the liability principle in market economies, see W. Eucken: Principles of Economic Policy, Bern and Tübingen 1952.
  • 39 Cf. T. Döring, F. Rischkowsky: Environmental destruction as a consequence of market and economic growth ?, Sofia discussion contributions, No. 16-4, Darmstadt 2016, pp. 35 f .; see also M. Schieritz: Adults ?, in: Die Zeit from November 28, 2013, No. 49, p. 23.
  • 40 This is also the argument of the German Advisory Council on Global Change: World in Transition - Social Contract for a Great Transformation, Berlin 2011, p. 189. B. in Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, a. a. O.
  • 41 The extent of the rebound effects is estimated to be controversial. For different prognoses, see for example J. Jackson, op. a. O.; R. Bleischwitz, op. a. O.
  • 42 Cf. for example U. Schneidewind: The Great Transformation, Frankfurt a. M. 2018, p. 54 ff.
  • 43 See in detail K. Raworth: Donut Economics - Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, London 2017; M. Göpel: The Great Mindshift - How a New Economic Paradigm and Sustainability Transformations go Hand in Hand, Cham 2016.
  • 44 Cf. K.-M. Ahrend: Business Model Sustainability - Ecological and Social Innovations as an Entrepreneurial Opportunity, Berlin, Heidelberg 2016.

Title: Assessing Fundamental Solutions to Overcome Polluting Growth

Abstract: Triggered by of the first report to the Club of Rome in 1972, the ecological limits of economic growth have experienced broad public attention. Current approaches, like De-Growth, Common Welfare, or Green Growth, have not only intensified the controversy about the trade-off concerning economic growth and environmental protection, but offer potential solutions to overcome polluting growth paradigm as well. The paper at hand assesses the economic viability of these fundamental solutions by referring to the factual and institutional causes of the mentioned trade-off.

JEL Classification: O49, Q56