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Scientific paper


Two Contrasting Scenarios for a Zero-Emission Future in a High-Consumption Society

Carlo Aall, Jin Xue, Hans Jakob Walnum, Petter Næss

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Scientific paper

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Keywords: ecological modernisation; degrowth; zero-emission society; scenario

Abstract: The Paris agreement on climate took effect on 4 November 2016. The agreement plans on holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. This paper compares an ecological modernisation (EM) development path with a degrowth development path, using urban and land-use planning impact on housing and transportation as cases. The two positions (EM and degrowth) agree on the need for a fundamental reduction in climate gases but disagree on which strategies should be pursued. EM transitions do not challenge the values associated with the capitalistic market economy and believe that policies, such as the right-price signals, should nudge producers and consumers in an environmentally benign direction. Conversely, degrowth rejects the EM belief in green growth, and holds that it will not be possible to decouple the economy from environmental loads to the necessary extent if the economy keeps growing. We conclude that we need a fundamental transformational change in society, i.e., a steering away from the growth ideology, and pursue policies that introduce maximum housing standards and limit mobility to succeed with the goals of the Paris agreement.

Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 20

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