German scholar Wolfgang Sachs talked about sustainable development versus economic growth in Copenhagen on invitation by The Ecological Council, The European Environment Agency and the Danish newspaper Information. Wolfgang Sachs is a former professor, former chairman of Greenpeace Germany, author of several books and contributor to the IPCC.
Sachs introduces with â€œthe four directionsâ€ which are his logical answers to scarcity. Then his talk is divided in nine points; some skipped, others expanded. Focussing on growth, the efficiency paradox, green investments, sufficiency and commons here are a selection of quotes and notes.
Introduction: The four directions
Before second world war governments did not see economic growth as their main objective. Growth philosophy a product of the post-war effort to curb unemployment, thus only 40-50 years old.
Efficiency paradox: Efficiency leads to consumption.
For example, I bought a bike about a week ago. I use it to transport myself to and from work so it already did about 100 kilometers. That's a couple of kilos of CO2 saved right there. However, it is the stated policy of the Danish government to sell unused carbon quotas. The money they use on tax cuts for the rich and for companies. Thus, my green investment and biking effort is funding luxury yachts, stock market speculation and I don't know what else.
Sufficiency and the commons
Effort is wasted in designing for top speed etc.
Unhappiness has environmental consequences as well as growth incentives, therefore promoting equitability creates sustainability.