The first comprehensive comparison of ‘degrowth’ scenarios with established pathways to limit climate change highlights the risk of over-reliance on carbon dioxide removal, renewable energy and energy efficiency to support continued global growth—which is assumed in established global climate modelling.
Degrowth focuses on the global North and is defined as an equitable, democratic reduction in energy and material use while maintaining wellbeing. A decline in GDP is accepted as a likely outcome of this transition.
The new modelling by the University of Sydney and ETH Zürich includes high growth/technological change and scenarios summarized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a comparison to degrowth pathways. It shows that by combining far-reaching social change focused on sufficiency as well as technological improvements, net-zero carbon emissions can be more easily achieved technologically.
The findings published today in Nature Communications.
Currently, the IPCC and the established modelling community, integrated assessment model (IAM), does not consider degrowth scenarios where reduced production and consumption in the global North is combined with maintaining wellbeing and achieving climate goals. In contrast, established scenarios rely on combinations of unprecedented carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere and other far-reaching technological changes.