Tag Archive: Tim Jackson

Oct 18 2010

Questioning Growth: “I Want You To Imagine A World”

Crossposted from Antemedius

Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must.

“the only thing that has actually remotely slowed down the relentless rise of carbon emissions over the last two to three decades is recession.”

— Tim Jackson

British Economist Tim Jackson studies the links between lifestyle, societal values and the environment to question the primacy of economic growth.

He currently serves as the economics commissioner on the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission and is director of RESOLVE – a Research group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment. After five years as Senior Researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Jackson became Professor of Sustainable Development at University of Surrey, and was the first person to hold that title at a UK university.

He founded RESOLVE in May 2006 as an inter-disciplinary collaboration across four areas – CES, psychology, sociology and economics – aiming to develop an understanding of the links between lifestyle, societal values and the environment.

In 2009 Jackson published “Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet”, a substantially revised and updated version of Jackson’s controversial study (.PDF, 136 pp.) for the Sustainable Development Commission, an advisory body to the UK Government. The study rapidly became the most downloaded report in the Commission’s nine year history when it was launched in 2009.

Filmed in July at TEDGlobal 2010, here is Tim Jackson’s economic reality check, a 20 minute talk he gave for the TEDGlobal audience…

I want you to imagine a world, in 2050, of around nine billion people, all aspiring to Western incomes, Western lifestyles. And I want to ask the question — and we’ll give them that two percent hike in income, in salary each years as well, because we believe in growth. And I want to ask the question: how far and how fast would be have to move? How clever would we have to be? How much technology would we need in this world to deliver our carbon targets? And here in my chart. On the left-hand side is where we are now. This is the carbon intensity of economic growth in the economy at the moment. It’s around about 770 grams of carbon. In the world I describe to you, we have to be right over here at the right-hand side at six grams of carbon. It’s a 130-fold improvement, and that is 10 times further and faster than anything we’ve ever achieved in industrial history. Maybe we can do it, maybe it’s possible — who knows? Maybe we can even go further and get an economy that pulls carbon out of the atmosphere, which is what we’re going to need to be doing by the end of the century. But shouldn’t we just check first that the economic system that we have is remotely capable of delivering this kind of improvement?



..transcript below..