Claim: “a-growth” is the new climate economics

From the UNIVERSITAT AUTONOMA DE BARCELONA and the department of climate lexicons comes this new phrase.

The new theory of economic ‘agrowth’ contributes to the viability of climate policies

Forty-five years after the first proposal on the limits to growth by the Club of Rome, the increasing concern over climate change and how to deal with it has reopened the debate questioning whether climate change mitigation policies are compatible with economic growth.

Many citizens, scientists and politicians fear that stringent climate policy will harm economic growth. While some are betting on “anti-growth” or “degrowth”, others advocate for the “green growth” which is compatible with a transition to a low-carbon economy.

A study by ICREA professor at ICTA-UAB Jeroen van den Bergh critically reflects on both positions “that jeopardize environmental or social goals”, while a third position, labelled “agrowth”, is proposed to depolarize the debate and reduce resistance to climate policies.

In the study, published recently in Nature Climate Change, “agrowth” is proposed as an alternative to the current disjunction between the “green growth” and “degrowth” positions. As it is impossible to know for sure whether growth and a stable climate are compatible, van den Bergh considers that it is better to be agnostic about growth and proposes a strategy that discounts GDP as an indicator “since growth is not an ultimate end, not even the means to an end”.

Regarding the two other existing positions, Jeroen van den Bergh says that “green growth” is the dominant strategy among those accepting climate change as a serious threat and searching for solutions which minimise growth effects. “The Paris climate agreement reflects this, through its voluntary national pledges without back-up from globally consistent policies. One must expect non-compliance, energy rebound and carbon leakage as a result, promising the agreement to be highly ineffective”.

The economy has a tremendous flexibility to adapt, through new technologies and changes in the composition of consumption and production. However, adaptation will not be complete and rapid without severe environmental regulation. It is not clear beforehand, though, that the ensuing economic transition will concur with economic growth. In fact, the new study finds that the empirical evidence and theoretical support for green growth under serious climate policies is feeble. In other words, being categorically pro-growth is a risk-seeking strategy with regard to climate change.

Literature describes that economic growth in rich countries anyway no longer contributes meaningfully to progress. Most people amply satisfy their basic needs, while poor people stand to benefit more from distributional measures, such as progressive income taxes, social security, public health care and a decent minimum wage.

“If the GDP indicator does not capture societal progress in rich nations, the time has come to ignore it”, says van den Bergh. Therefore, “degrowth” and “zero growth” proposals are not considered feasible either, since they actually seek to reverse growth and cause a decline in GDP. He also indicates that anti-growth proposals lack a basis in rigorous science and thus can easily do more harm than good for society.

“One can be concerned or critical about economic growth without resorting to an anti-growth position”, states the author. He goes on to highlight that an “agrowth” strategy will allow us to scan a wider space for policies that improve welfare and environmental conditions. Policy selection will not be constrained by the goal of economic growth. “One does not need to assume that unemployment, inequity and environmental challenges are solved by unconditional pro- or zero/negative growth. Social and environmental policies sometimes restrain and at other times stimulate growth, depending on contextual factors. An “agrowth” strategy is precautionary as it makes society less sensitive to potential scenarios in which climate policy constrains economic growth. Hence, it will reduce resistance to such policy”, he indicates.

In a practical sense, van den Bergh states that it is necessary to combat the social belief – widespread among policy circles and politics – that growth has to be prioritized, and stresses the need for a debate in politics and wider society about stepping outside the futile framing of pro- versus anti-growth. “Realizing there is a third way can help to overcome current polarization and weaken political resistance against a serious climate policy”.


128 thoughts on “Claim: “a-growth” is the new climate economics

  1. Seems to me that this “a-growth” concept is just about putting a huge hole (or better term “a-hole”) in our economy in the name of being green.

    • More, it’s another strategy for keeping the under classes down. Which has been the whole point since the Club of Rome, suppressing growth (and the attendant upward mobility) isn’t a bug nor a feature, it’s been the objective the whole time. The preservation of the status of the upper and upper-middle classes, which requires keeping everyone below them, below them.

      • I agree the objective is to suppress growth and upword mobility, but I don’t think it is an attempt by the upper and middle classes to keep others below them, it is because human beings fear the rise of other groups, especially if those groups are distinctly culturely different. Limiting growth by limiting affordable energy to developing nations is an attempt to prevent the rise of China, now being increasingly villified in the media, and Africa, and South Asia.

    • I was thinking that agrowth meant Alt-growth… like the Alt-left media…

      I note in passing the reference to a “3rd Way”. In Economics, 3rd Way is the name for various attempts at Market Socialism or Lange Type Socialism (First coined by Musolini for his nationalist brand of socialism aka fascism. He started his political life translating Marxist doctrine, btw). As this is an Econ paper, the author ought to know that and may be obliquely referencing it.

  2. In the US, we have government programs that rely on growth. Social Security for example. Without growth, those programs will put an undue burden on the young.

    • Social Security. Actually, the program doesn’t put an undue burden on the young. It is a demonstration of how government and the Fed can take something that could/would work, and turn it into something that is a problem down the road. By Johnson’s rolling the Social Security fund and its essentially fixed rate of growth into the general fund and letting the Fed push the interest rates down, it took a self sustaining program and turned it into something that will struggle to be maintained.

      As for the young, the constant raising of the minimum wage brought a reduction in jobs that they could compete for in the first place, and in the second place, the rising minimum wage was driving costs up as well, thus turning seniors into competitors for those jobs the young were competing for in the first place.

      As for “agrowth,” when you remove the creation of GDP from the equation, you are saying that the only option is a decrease in living standard since the cost of living is NOT decreasing. Thus unless there is an increase in domestic output, there can’t be a sustained standard of living, much less allow for space for more people in it. Thus “agrowth” appears to me to be a means to create the universal misery that has always been the hallmark of communism.

      On the other hand, “green growth” requires population reduction to even allow for universal misery.

      • Apparently several European countries, such as Britain and Germany, not to mention parts of Canada and Australia, are already experimenting with agrowth, by implementing wind- and solar-based power systems. Germany, for example, has large numbers of families without electric power because they have been unable to pay their power bills and have been disconnected. Although I was not able to discover what exactly was meant by ‘agrowth’, I suspect that having families freezing in the dark is all part and parcel of it.

        Welcome to the brave new world of sustainability and eco-virtue!

      • Tom
        Today’s GDP is primarily based on consumption, with the expected profit results. Wall st brokers set those profit expectation. This is an inflationary circle. Most Western countries have citizens that cannot afford to participate in that society, they are just hanging on. All Western societies are mature and need recalibration.

        The alternative is to reduce the cost of engagement with society. House prices need to fall etc. Set a new goal.

        As an example in New Zealand the four main foreign banks declsir close 5 billion dollars from the country after tax, from 4.5 million people. Poverty is rising. The current model is not working.

        Please don’t call it Communism that we need to move to, as the other C word capitalism is not working apart for the wealthy.

        Everything rises to a peak and fails, and as they have found even with capitalism you must keep pumping cash into it to keep it alive, just to keep wall st happy.

        Time for a rethink

      • “Today’s GDP is primarily based on consumption”

        What should GDP be based on? Making stuff that nobody is ever going to use?

        Broker’s have nothing to do with setting profit expectations. Profit is needed because nobody gives their money away for free. Just as lenders wouldn’t lend if the interest rate was zero. Investors don’t invest if their is no prospect of getting back more than they put in.

        Capitalism has worked just fine, for everyone and experience has shown that the more capitalism in an economy the better for everyone.
        Communism and socialism benefits those who run the government, and nobody else.

      • MarkW.
        Although I haven’t met you, you would be noticeable in a crowd. I would just look for someone with naive tattooed on there forehead

      • I love it when leftists actually believe that they are the smart ones.
        If adhering to reality makes me naive, then I will proudly claim the title.
        I suppose it’s better than being hopelessly paranoid that people who work for a living are out to get me.

      • OZONEBUST,

        Can you clarify what you mean by “Time for a rethink”.

        Societies/groups have been changing their models (rethinking) continuously, ever since some semblance of leadership grew out of the tribes (or even packs).

        With the most recent “rethink” (globalism or global governance), the “peak and fail” that you see as inevitable will be world wide….

        As for capitalism “not working” … what would be a satisfactory definition of “working”, or “works”; what do you want? Be honest, start with what you want and then go from there (knowing, of course, that it will peak and fail, as do all things ;))

      • @Ozonebust:

        The USA has not had free market capitalism since about the 1960s. Europe much longer. We moved to what is called a Mixed Economy then (along with all the othrr Keynsians of the era..,).

        Whatever you see as failing isn’t Capitalism, it is the experiment in the government managed economy, whatever lable you hide it under. Central Planning just can not keep up with the information flows needed while distributed self organizing systems do.

        History is littered with failed Central Planning. National State Socialism, Fascism, The Soviet Union (and all the various little Soviets), Mao and the great leaps (moved to their current 3rd Way Socialism that is reaching a limit now too), a long list in Latin America with Brazil having swapped a few times, returning to markets when the poverty gets too bad and they want a good life again while Argentina has the odd revolt and Peru got it right with just one revolt. Honorable mention of Venezuela as the current poster child for failed centeal planning via socialism.

        All the while free markets keep the world working. Even if sometimes as “black markets” during collapses of the central planning. Free markets are the one thing that consistently does work.

      • @E.M.Smith – You speak truth. The US has been drifting deeper into ‘crony capitalism’, where companies that know how to work Washington get lucrative contracts in return for money under the table, political contributions, etc. Trump can be accused of being part of this (at least in the past), and the Clintons were blatant about it. I’m not sure anyone in Congress can avoid the being named a participant. When the Government and large companies collude to fatten each other’s purses and power, it is not Capitalism, but crony capitalism.
        Managed economies can not escape this label (crony capitalism). I abhor the mislabeling of the two economic systems. They are vastly different.

      • E.M.Smith is correct. Free enterprise in the U.S. has eroded steadily since the 1960s. I remember as a boy government mandating the seat belts be put in cars. Arguments were about whether or not seat belts were a good idea. No one argued about the government’s authority to make such a mandate. Once government had the power to mandate, regulation exploded.

        The United States is a fascist nation – characterized by strong, autocratic central control of a private economy. In case you don’t know, that is the definition of fascism.

        “Chrony capitalism” is just a pretty face for fascism. Big companies eventually learn that fighting the central government doesn’t work, so they shift to going along with it, then cooperating with it in partnership.

        The United States needs to get rid of 90+% of its regulations. And limit the power of government to create new regulations.

  3. Another screed on the danger of peasant scum getting uppity. As society depends on peons remaining in the position that is ordained for them, any effort to generally raise living standards or civil rights is destructive of the current position of the writer.
    Aside from the presumption of the advocates that they are among the elect, it is the basic aristocratic ethos. It does, however, tend to extend in practice to a Leninist elite claiming to rule for the benefit of the peons.

    • I find it fascinating that labels are immediately applied such as Communism, stalanism etc. Fundamentally there is not a lot of. Difference between capitalism. You just haven’t witnessed the end of the latter yet, government keeps it on life support. Take the USA current account deficit, Japan has spent trillions trying to pump life into a limp corpse.

      The real fear is deflation. But that is one of the requirements, as is a wider spread of the spoils, both C words fail as models. I would be happy for my house price to fall, if it meant more of my fellow citizens could afford one and get out of the rent trap. And no I am not a Communist.

      • I love the way those on the left go out of their way to prove they have no concept of how economies work.
        Here we have a case of government massively intervening in the economy, and you declare that it is an example of capitalism in action.

      • “Fundamentally there is not a lot of. Difference between capitalism” What you are referring to is “crony capitalism”. The term “capitalism” was coined by Karl Marx. What is needed is a free market system with the government setting as little regulations as possible and a level playing field.

      • You sure are trolling like a commie. In your attack on capitalism you left out a few important facts;
        1. No economic system has made more wealth for more people than capitalism.
        2. Communism and socialism both routinely sacrifice personal freedom via a ruling oligarchy.
        You wana be a commie? Fine sell you house for 10% of its value; then you can live in the public library and troll all day!

      • “old construction worker March 10, 2017 at 4:32 pm

        What is needed is a free market system with the government setting as little regulations as possible and a level playing field.”

        It’s Govn’t regulation that sets that level playing field, without it in a “free market”, whoever controls that market set’s the price and we know how that works.

      • Complete misunderstanding of basic economic concepts. Deflation penalises borrowers, in others words most Western governments, or taxpayers and users of government services as they should be known.

        Why do you want to massively increase tax and massively decrease public services? seems an odd way to help the poor?

        And the better off are, in the main, better off because they have well-paid jobs. Thus the simple solution to poverty is to try and get more and more people into better paid jobs, not to somehow engineer a massive fall in prices that will put millions out of work.

      • MJD: “whoever controls that market set’s the price and we know how that works.” Who controls the price? I would say the consumer does. If you produce a product or provide a service and your prices are to high or the product/service is so low quality someone else will step in and you go out of business (free market) unless you (crony capitalism) are protected by government.

      • @ old construction worker : I love you like a brother. Your last sentence is EXACTLY what is required, and nothing like the system we now have in the US.

  4. Might as well go all the way and say that negative interest rates currently in the EU and buying time on hopeless Greek debt are agrowth. Meanwhile in the real world, Tgrowth from Trump will provide old fashioned growth with the US leading the way as usual and the EU benefiting from the high dollar, EU exports, and reforms outside the EU. This is not even counting the wealth effect of markets anticipating Tgrowth with $2.5 trillion already added to US household assets.

  5. If new resources are not exploited and now opportunities not taken then the current disposition of wealth will be maintained.

    In fact, those who have a slight advantage will be able to expand their share at the cost of the poorer. There will be no disruptive technologies. There will be no need fro changes in the social system to exploit new economic opportunities.

    This is a conservative charter fro maintain the power of the rich over the poor.

    • It always fascinates me how socialists project their desires on others.
      It has never been the desire of conservatives to protect anyone’s power. We leave that to you socialists/fascists.
      It is also a myth that absent government, wealth will always accumulate to the richest. In truth that takes government. In a free market wealth accumulates to the most able, and who that is changes from generation to generation.

      • MarkW:

        Yet again you have attempted to disrupt a thread by promoting your far-right political views.

        M Courtney made an analysis of the claims for a-growth with the clear conclusion that

        This is a conservative charter fro(sic) maintain the power of the rich over the poor.

        He was not the first to point this out in the thread. Tom Halla had done it earlier when he concluded

        Aside from the presumption of the advocates that they are among the elect, it is the basic aristocratic ethos. It does, however, tend to extend in practice to a Leninist elite claiming to rule for the benefit of the peons.

        It is possible but unlikely that you have a capability to make a rational response supporting, opposing and/or criticising these analyses. If you can do that then please do. But please stop using any excuse you can find to disrupt every thread by promoting your fascist ideology.


      • It always fascinates me how socialists project their desires on others.

        I don’t think the projection is accidental; it’s a tactic. Preemptive, false accusations sent outward deflect against future, true accusations arriving inward.

      • I love it when the far left tries to claim that they aren’t.
        First off, the clear conclusion is nothing but a lie.
        There is nothing conservative about the rich maintaining power over the poor.
        I know that’s what you socialist/fascists tell each other in order to justify your desire to take money from those who work and have government spend it on people like yourselves.

        So refuting a leftwing lie is thread jacking, but pushing a leftwing lie isn’t.
        Nice attempt to control the agenda there.

      • Hey MarkW, a helpful hint: Richard S. Courtney gets really, really upset whenever you throw shade on the girl he’s sleeping with. (or boy, I don’t mean to be sexist here)

      • wws, usually when people resort to attacking the man it’s because they have no way of disputing the arguments.
        My argument was that ‘no economic growth’ leads to ‘no disruption to the balance of economic power’ leads to ‘the rich get richer at the expense of the poor’. Everyone who has disagreed with my argument has just hand-waved about the left being wrong because they are left. Circular arguments and silly.

        But you went a bit far when you accused my father of having sex with me. Still the same tactic. But odious in moral sense as well as intellectual sense.

      • richard makes a naked assertion then whines because other’s are just waving their hands.
        Perhaps you need a refresher course in self awareness.

      • PS: Lying about what others have said isn’t exactly kosher.
        I never said the left was wrong because they are left, I said they are wrong because the policies they push don’t work.

      • MarkW you said “It has never been the desire of conservatives to protect anyone’s power.”

        But the definition of conservatism is “tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions ” from Webster’s.

        So your statement is false. It is the desire of conservatives to protect conditions and institutions. That is the definition of conservatism.

        When I said “This is a conservative charter fro (typo “to”) maintain the power of the rich over the poor” I was using the word “conservative” correctly.

        You then just pretended that conservative meant the opposite; just as black means white, up means down and compassion means self-interest… conveniently to disparage the left.
        Silly hand-waving argument. That may be excused as English is clearly not your first language.

      • Poor Richard, actually thinking that a static dictionary can define a word forever.
        Conservatives want less government, in today’s climate, it is the socialists who want to preserve things the way they are, it is those you define as far right who are trying to change things.

      • Furthermore MarkW, You miss the point entirely when you say,

        In a free market wealth accumulates to the most able, and who that is changes from generation to generation.

        No, it doesn’t unless the economic system is disrupted. The “most able” is the richest in a capitalist society. That’s because the rich have the capital.

        You might think that Prince Charles and the Gettys are innately superior by breeding to the widowed housewife raising three children on her own but it might also be because they have the money that passes from one generation to the next.

        Now, if the economic system is disrupted the opportunities may be exploited by the most innovative. But my point was that that won’t happen in an agrowth economy.
        So the rich – the most able as they have the capital – get richer.

      • It’s hard to discuss with someone who claims words mean what they want them to mean when they want them to mean it. Especially when I was the one using the word that you didn’t know.
        So I’m leaving this thread now.
        Or should that be “leaving this thmead” as you have trouble with initials?

      • Mark is not promoting fascist ideology. Fascism is a socialist ideology. mark is saying the trivially true thing that in a free market economy productive capital will flow to the most productive hands. It takes government, whether in the form of socialism (including fascism) or feudalism, to prevent that movement and keep wealth in the hands of the politically powerful.

      • In fairness, I have no idea who’s behind the names here, I’m just a good guesser. But the similarity in posting names + the extreme emotional response (twice now!) by both whenever one was questioned was a sign that there was some type of bond between you two. I dropped a line as nothing but a joke and you hit it like a 20 pound bass goin’ after a junebug.

        Seriously, this is the internet, you should take care not to make relationships so obvious. Someone who’s seriously malicious could cause you both much grief from little slips like that. But I really intended no harm, not before, not now.

      • A Leftist has declared that both the Truth and History are ‘right wing’. And unluckily for him, he’s correct.

      • Richard, I realize that having been immersed in socialist theology since birth, so I have to make allowances for your inability to react with the world as it is.
        No, having wealth does not make one more able. That’s just another one of those socialist myths that socialists tell each other in order to justify their desire to take money from those who work in order to spend it on themselves.

        Prince Charles et. al are wealthy because of their government contacts, not because of anything they have done.
        Using government to get wealthy is the hallmark of socialism, not capitalism and there is nothing conservative about it.

      • MarkW:

        I have lost count of the times you have claimed in this thread that “Richard” said something when Matt said it.

        Perhaps your persistent advocacy of fascism

      • Sorry. that went before I finished because my arm (so hand) often does things on its own.

        I will start again.


        I have lost count of the times you have claimed in this thread that “Richard” said something when Matt (M Courtney) said it.

        Perhaps your persistent advocacy of fascism derives from your brain failing to understand that names have meanings and – unlike you – intelligent people think for themselves.


      • Richard.

        Be good to yourself.

        We (you and I) do not agree about this issue (as you know, lol).

        I want you here next week, though.


        Enjoy a little tune — and smile.


      • My apologies, you courtney’s tend to run together.
        I find it fascinating the way you declare that anything to the right of socialism is fascism.
        Perhaps it’s because socialism promotes lazy thinking.

      • Apology accepted.
        But when did I “declare that anything to the right of socialism is fascism”?

      • MW Courtney, you are spouting discredited Marxism. Even before the end of the 19th century, economists showed that capitalism doesn’t mean that wealth is accumulated by those with capital.

        And you, like so many, think that having everybody poor but equal is better than having everybody rich but unequal. Yet that is a bizarre view that would have us all living in mud huts rather than most in proper houses and a few in mansions.

        There has been significant social mobility in the West for over 100 years, which simply and easily shows that you are utterly wrong. Did Bill Gates have the capital because he is an aristocrat? The Waltons? And how about the terms of thousands of doctors, lawyers, accountants and bakers who have got well-paid jobs and come from poor backgrounds? You focus on the extremely rich and ignore the vast advances in wealth made by the vast majority of people.

      • M Courtney:

        You did not say it and I did not say it.

        You will not get your apology although the obnoxious troll who posts as MarkW knows you did not say it and I did not say it. He/she/they/it lies habitually. It is why he/she/they/it adopts untrue meanings of words which disagree with every reputable dictionary: those adoptions are merely one of the methods MarkW uses to lie.

        However, I swelled with paternal pride as I watched you wipe the floor with the obnoxious troll and his/her/their/its oleaginous sidekick hiding behind the moniker of wws.


      • Tim Hammond:

        M Courtney is not and has not spouted “Marxism” of any kind.

        You are out of your league. Spout your fallacious nonsense elsewhere or you will look even more of a fool than you do now.


      • richardscourtney,

        You said: “intelligent people think for themselves.”

        Ok, if you’re so intelligent then give me your ‘intelligent’ responses to my questions in the other thread.
        Let me know if you want me to post those questions to you here in this thread.

        Just doing this as a favor to you because it appears in the other thread that you are frightened to answer them. Giving you a chance here to “wipe the floor” with me and make me look like a “fool” and “obnoxious troll”.


      • Tim Hammond you say,

        economists showed that capitalism doesn’t mean that wealth is accumulated by those with capital,

        Even were that true and even were the economists right (there is a first time after all) that is irrelevant.

        We are talking about a-growth.

        Economists may well find that a fool and their money are soon parted, in a world where economic growth exists or is aimed for. But so what?
        That is not the case in a-growth. In a-growth their is no utilisation of previously untapped forms of resources. There is only the consumption of like-for-like with respect to what is generated by the consumption. Speculation consumes something knew – by definition not sustainable. Not a-growth.

        So in a-growth who does get to dominate the market? The answer is economies of scale.
        And who gets the economies of scale? The one with the biggest initial stake.

        Thus the rich get richer at the expense of the poor (in a-growth there must be a zero-sum game).

        This fits with the historical record. Established dynastic wealth maintains dominance in established industries (until the industry is transformed by innovation, which cannot happen in a-growth).

    • Yes, no system is perfect but one giving reign (and reward) to ingenuity and risk taking is demonstrably superior for the poor to a stagnating sum, distributive system which ends up making everyone dirt poor. What are the Bill Gatess and Warren Buffets of the world ultimately going to do with all their cash? (I leave that for your homework).

      Meanwhile an electronic revolution has enriched the entire world that wouldnt have been (it is no surprise where its development and center of gravity is) . It is like having your own personal Library of Congress+ although I realize Luddites are working overtime to corrupt and destroy it as is the case for civilization itself. But all can be heard and light eventually gets shined in every corner.

      When I was in Nigeria in the 1960s life expectancy there was probably less than 40 yrs (50% of pop didn’t reach 12yrs old and this was the second largest economy south of the Sahara). Yes it’s attractive to centrally planned types to distribute the spoils from a big pie widely and deeply, but there is no thought to how big pies came to be.

    • M. Courtney,

      “This is a conservative charter fro maintain the power of the rich over the poor.”

      Your use of language seems designed to prevent rational discussion, frankly. Just the “rich” and “poor” are mentioned, for instance, and you use the terms “conservative” and “power over” in a manner that makes little sense to me . .

      I suspect but cannot know, that you really mean some hyper-wealthy control freaks who want power over everyone (which is to say power over Government). I seriously doubt the “rich” in general are interested in having power over the “poor” in general . . and suspect they don’t like the idea of some hyper-wealthy control freaks ruling over them any more than you or I do.

    • It’s not possible for new resources and opportunities to be not exploited and ignored in capitalist society; except by authoritarian diktat. Environmentalist diktat like “carbon pollution” springs to mind as do attempted bans against GMOs, nanomaterials we’ve seen from European enviros.

  6. More to the point there is an admission that growth and green are in opposition with each other. That is if run in the currently proposed process of reducing fossil fuels and spending big on wind/solar.

    Not even good at reducing CO2, a methane focused economy would have done hugely better for CO2 if that is a metric of interest but it violates the fossil fuel hatred.

  7. However, adaptation will not be complete and rapid without severe environmental regulation.

    IOW, more top down economics to be directed by Top Men ©.

  8. Tell this clown his academic salary is now capped. Then see how he feels about “Eh growth”. It’s always better when it’s someone else’s ox being gored … or confiscated.

    • The world obviously needs leadership in this regard. Academics can lead by having their salaries and therefore consumption cut by 75%. The rest of us will follow when we’ve studied their results long enough

      • Indeed,

        “van den Bergh considers that it is better to be agnostic about growth and proposes a strategy that discounts GDP as an indicator “since growth is not an ultimate end, not even the means to an end”.

        Place this gentleman in poverty, or lower middle class, and he will seek more resources.

  9. “since growth is not an ultimate end, not even the means to an end”

    So says the man who already has everything he wants.

  10. You don’t need any degree in economics to understand that spending money on projects which have no economic payback is stupid.And in the particular case of renewables, renewable energy productive capacity which is built cannot even replace existing power generator plants, which cost a lot of money to operate, even if they produce very little power.

    • Is there a possibility that, if gonvernment entities hadn’t adopted bizarrely contradictory fleet MPG strictures and even flat-out, anti-diesel (talking about CARB here) legislation, that auto manufacturers would not have been forced to use gimmicks to ensure their survival?

      I have to suspect that ALL manufacturers have spent millions trying to find ways to defeat these laws…

  11. The above article says

    As it is impossible to know for sure whether growth and a stable climate are compatible, van den Bergh considers that it is better to be agnostic about growth and proposes a strategy that discounts GDP as an indicator “since growth is not an ultimate end, not even the means to an end”.

    Say what!?
    Investopedia provides this definition

    Economic growth is an increase in the capacity of an economy to produce goods and services, compared from one period of time to another. It can be measured in nominal or real terms, the latter of which is adjusted for inflation.

    i.e. Economic growth is increase to wealth.

    One shudders to think what van den Bergh considers to be desirable when he claims increase to wealth “is not an ultimate end, not even the means to an end”.


  12. “The economy has a tremendous flexibility to adapt, through new technologies and changes in the composition of consumption and production. However, adaptation will not be complete and rapid without severe environmental regulation.”

    In other words, bring on world communism, administered of course by the all-knowing, all-benevolent UN and its bureaucrats.

    The Climate Borg mantra is apropo:
    “You will be assimilated. Your distinctiveness added to the Collective. Resistance is futile.”

    And Why futile? Because they said so, apparently.

  13. agrowth”, is proposed to depolarize the debate and reduce resistance to climate policies.”

    I have a novel suggestion. If the authors of this article and other alarmists wish to depolarize the debate, try showing us some convincing evidence that anthropogenic CO2 is adversely affecting the climate and that their suggested mitigation measures will have even a remote benefit to either the climate or socety.

  14. This is very relevant, but in a counter-intuitive way.

    75% of global CO2 emissions are from countries with below replacement fertility rates.
    Further declining CO2 emissions ( we’ve already peaked ) are baked in the cake.

    But this did not come from fascist dictates about CO2 use which restrained growth,
    but rather came FROM economic growth.

    Fertility rates correlate directly with economic development.

    Only the close minded and political would persist in extolling agrowth ( or be in denial about growth as part of human development and evidently reducing human footprint ).

  15. A is for anti-growth as demonstrated by the power giants EON and RWE in Germany. Both companies have announced losses of many billions. Energiewende or the transfer to renewables is a big anti-success.

    South Australia is in the anti-energy business with several massive blackouts causing huge costs to industry.

    Climate change is, of course, a good example of a-science.

  16. Where are the a-growth economic models to support the climate models? Tie the two models together, let them iterate and you get a hokey schtick.

  17. Take one part of something that doesn’t happen, (green growth), blend with one part recession, (degrowth), and you get agrowth. Sorry van den Bergh, a little “reflection” and some semantic juggling does not reconcile all the irreconcilable differences between green economics and sustained prosperity

    Disclaimer, of sorts: My mother was born in Barcelona, as a child I spent 2 weeks each summer in Spain, it was wonderful in the 60’s. Kids could get into all kinds of trouble and the nuns would just tut-tut you, and then give you a date or almond pastry as a reward for your future promise to be good. But there is zero, zilch, none, nyet, nada, no amount of critical thinking that goes on there, not one bit. When they need something solved they just hire a guy from Switzerland. Subsequently, this “reflection” by the alleged author could not have and did not happen. And that’s all I have to say about that.

    • It’s called efficiency and every company I have ever worked with is always searching for more ways to do more with less.

    • MarkW March 10, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Yeah here in the U.S. it became trendy, becasue it was something the Japanese cooked up. Only problem was the Japanese were embracing it out of a different set of needs. Declining work force and physical lack of space for inexpensive development.

      JIT is wonderful ,,, until the first big snow storm or river over flowing. Bye Bye supply chain and production schedules.
      Your place of business may have sunshine nice weather, but still be shut down by an event hundreds of miles away. Most production businesses no longer keep more then a day or so of raw materials on hand
      My last couple years before retiring I would spend 3 -10 hrs a week checking with the scheduler to see if the material had arrived so i would know whether to setup a machine to run it. Every other Machinist in the department went through the same rigmarole. Yes doing this was one of our responsibilities.


      • Efficiency embraces a whole lot of things, just one of which is JIT.
        JIT is an effective technique for managing inventories, but nobody believes that it is the end all of efficiency.

        Lots of people take the newest fad and use it far past the point of diminishing returns.

        Just because one company took JIT too far is not evidence that JIT in general is a bad idea.
        Even if JIT turns out to be not worth it is not evidence that all efficiency improvements are a bad idea.

        When I was much younger, I worked in a wood shop. One day during a slow period I worked with the guy who programmed the automated lathe to make the cutting pattern more efficient. Cut all the holes that were in one area at the same time before moving to the next. The original program tended to skip around.
        As a result of that little piece of efficiency we were able to cut the time it took to manufacture that part by about 10%. That allowed the same machine to do more work when things got busy again.
        That’s an efficiency improvement that has nothing to do with JIT.

        I also created a jig to help with the making of display brackets that they are still using.

      • MarkW March 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        The example of the programmer is a good one. You need a bit of slack in the operations so you can do things like that.

        I have seen kaizen , 5-S events where teams form other areas came in and redid work stations to be more efficient and in their view less cluttered.
        They removed all the staplers in one case. When I inquired they stated anyone could use the one at the lead man’s desk.
        silly. Sillier when I told them the staplers were personal property of the Machinists. We just left them in the draws so anyone could us them. Saves a trip.

        You have to know how things work and why things work before even thinking about change.

        Like I said the reasons Japan went this way, is demographics – an ageing population while still very healthy increasing past their prime.

        The company I work for, saw in our own work force some of the same issues we were collectively getting older. We watched ourselves grow grey.

        Oh yes many of of the people doing the kaizen-5S were new engineers and personal types. We were gentle with them.

        Also inventory turns for U.S. Businesses – taxing end of year inventories, how stupid can you get.
        That has been a driver of JIT.
        Taxes on warehouses, I could go on.


  18. “As it is impossible to know for sure whether growth and a stable climate are compatible”
    A stable climate is something that is only compatible with the thinking process of idiots.

  19. I guess agrowth as a concept was a natural progression after they brought us amoral, aeducation, ascience, afacts and the like. Like the ignorant dinosaurs, these herbivores in university are totally blind to the bolide about to fossilize them while they forage on the bountiful green.

  20. WUWT needs a post on Musk’s Australian wager, should heavily subsidized US technology be propping up Aussie’s renewables failure?

    • Exactly. This is just another blatant attempt to keep alive a failing argument, another change in terms to let the lefties pretend there’s something new, when in fact, it’s still just the same old failing argument. Green jobs are lost opportunities. A “green” economy is a smaller economy. A smaller economy is NOT growing, it’s shrinking. Oil and fossil fuels are all about improved efficiency. Going to other sources of energy is tantamount to LOSING efficiency, LOSING energy density, INCREASING costs and overhead.

      Stop insulting our intelligence.

  21. Growth is the anathema to totalitarians. If the economy is growing, there is less need for dependence, and thus less need for dictators to ration everything.

  22. I think it’s a conundrum that the people who bitch about poverty and wealth concentration tend to be the same people who advocate transforming the economy into a zero-sum game.

    • For the most part, the people who moan the most about poverty are also the biggest supporter of government programs that are the biggest creator of poverty in this country.

  23. Look at GDP 2008 during the financial crisis and tell us again that it isn’t a reliable indicator.

  24. since growth is not an ultimate end, not even the means to an end

    According to Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, whenever rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth over the long term, the result is concentration of wealth.

    If we are willing to consider a zero growth or even de-growth strategy, concentration of wealth can only be prevented by a negative rate of return on capital, but then no sane person would invest a penny in anything, so the entire economy would grind to a screeching halt.

    That means whoever insists stopping growth, promotes patrimonial capitalism with the same breath. That much should be understood.

      • Not so.

        Gini index for distribution of wealth is 0.803 in the US, 0.730 in France, 0.679 in the UK, 0.667 in Germany and 0.547 in Japan.
        Gini index for income inequality after taxes and transfers is 0.378 in the US, 0.293 in France, 0.345 in the UK, 0.295 in Germany and 0.329 in Japan.
        Population growth rate is 0.75% in the US, 0.45% in France, 0.63% in the UK, 0.06% in Germany and -0.12% in Japan.

        If anything, the trend is quite the opposite. Also, please note inequality is way more in wealth than in income. Which means the wealthier you are, the more opportunity you have to hide your income.

      • One way to “hide” your income in the US is through backing municipal bonds, ie. loaning money to local towns/cities/counties. Interest collected on these bonds is 100% tax-deductible. Of course, to take real advantage of this, you need a few million dollars to loan out first.

  25. “Agrowth”— Orwell was right again, it seems totalitarians have a propensity for dreaming up neologisms to mask their real intentions: “… adaptation will not be complete and rapid without severe environmental regulation”.

  26. Agrowth is the observation that economic growth can move well-being forward and backward or in the terms of the paper, progress and regress. Removing the palliative from the term economic growth and keeping the pejorative as well at bay it is hoped that a new view of economic growth can be accepted where the benefits and costs can be more reasonably discussed where climate change is one of those costs.

    Whether that it is a useful or valid framing of economic growth is another matter entirely.

  27. There is not much science or technology in this paper from a Professor at an Institute of Science&Technology. Seemingly just more global-warming politics.

    There’s a few sentences where he appears to be trying to sound reasonable about the harm most “green” proposals will cause, but this sentence is still the give-away for me:

    a third position, labelled “agrowth”, is proposed to depolarize the debate and reduce resistance to climate policies

    This is language we hear a bit more often from homo climaticus when the prospect of not getting their own way finally dawns on them. All of a sudden there is a “debate”, is there? We’re more used to being told that “the debate is over”. You can tell they still don’t really believe in having a debate because, as he indicates, it is really only another ploy to get their harmful policies forced upon the unwilling.

  28. ‘Literature describes that economic growth in rich countries anyway no longer contributes meaningfully to progress.’


    Unnamed sources. What definition is he using for ‘progress?’ Why does economic growth have to contribute to progress, whatever that means?

  29. From an economic standpoint, the point this author appears to be addressing (in a roundabout sort of way) is that “green” advocates recognize that “green” policies are Malthusian and anti-growth, so they came up with the idea of “green-growth” to claim that “growth” in “green” industries would somehow overcome the inevitable shrinkage those policies would create. Low and behold, the experienced reality is that the regulation and subsidies required to create “green-growth” are Malthusian and anti-growth and result in a net negative impact on overall growth, so the “green-growth” concept has run its course and a new concept is necessary, hence “agrowth”.
    Unfortunately, “agrowth” is a misnomer, as it is not really a “growth” concept at all. It attempts to avoid the issue by questioning whether growth is necessary while at the same time arguing that reallocation of resources should be considered a form of “growth”. One could make a valid theoretical argument (as appears to be the case here) that a technically advanced society with negative population growth has no need of overall economic growth, and could rely (at least in the short-term) on redistributive policies. The test-case at the moment is Japan. Unfortunately, this requires ignoring inconvenient details such as migration pressure originating in countries where population-growth exceeds economic-growth, infrastructure-decay, the growing socialized cost of caring for a population where the median age is rising, etc., etc. Being a series of islands with a generally homogenous population, Japan has the means to offset migration pressure. How it deals with the other issues remains to be seen.
    As for the issue of GDP, its true value lies in laying it against other measures. For instance: a country with a rising population and a shrinking GDP would be an indicator of political instability. Best to keep an eye on it.

    • There are so many things wrong with the concept that it’s hard to know where to start in debunking it. One approach is to counter the sustainability of no-growth policy or redistribution as a form of growth. And Japan might seem like a test-case on the surface but it’s not all that close in totality. It is running out of options after a series of central banks moves that did not work. It relies on an external source for its regional security in an increasing menacing region and it was the original model for export driven industrial strategy producing chronic export surpluses and only limited low-tech consumer goods for imports plus energy. In other words Japan, and now all of Asia are using the same one-sided industrial strategy of exports and technological advancement at the expense of the U.S. for advancement and wealth. Sustainability or lack thereof is the key to question and there is none of that to be had unless you ignore it like the advocates do for a living.

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