Post-growth: A viable path to limiting global warming to 1.5°C

| March 19, 2024 | Leave a Comment

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Date of Publication: December 1

Year of Publication: 2023

Publication City: Cambridge, MA

Publisher: Cell Press

Author(s): Aljoša Slameršak , Giorgos Kallis , Daniel W. O’Neill et al.

Journal: One Earth


Existing climate mitigation scenarios assume future rates of economic growth that are significantly higher than what has been experienced in the recent past. In this article we explore how assuming lower rates of growth, in line with the hypothesis of secular stagnation, changes the range of mitigation possibilities.

We compare scenarios with moderate and strong policy ambition under both high-growth and low-growth assumptions. The results show that low growth makes it more feasible to decrease emissions in a way that is consistent with 1.5°C–2°C of warming. Moreover, low growth reduces the need to rely on unprecedented buildout of low-carbon energy infrastructure, and the unprecedented rates of energy-GDP decoupling that characterize existing scenarios.

By contrast, pursuing higher growth rates, such as those represented in IMF projections, jeopardize the Paris Agreement. The challenge is that lower growth is commonly associated with recession, which raises concerns about equity between and within countries, social stability, and the ability to finance a low-carbon energy transition. Recent literature on achieving a ‘‘post-growth’’ transition points to novel policies that could address these problems, which should be explored and evaluated in future mitigation scenarios.

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