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Position paper

The anti-colonial politics of degrowth

Jason Hickel

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Position paper

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Political Geography


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Degrowth calls for rich nations to scale down throughput to sustainable levels, reducing aggregate energy use to enable a sufficiently rapid transition to renewables, and reducing aggregate resource use to reverse ecological breakdown. This demand is not just about ecology; rather, it is rooted in anti-colonial principles. Degrowth scholars and activists explicitly recognize the reality of ecological debt and call for an end to the colonial patterns of appropriation that underpin Northern growth, in order to release the South from the grip of extractivism and a future of catastrophic climate breakdown. Degrowth is, in other words, a demand for decolonization. Southern countries should be free to organize their resources and labor around meeting human needs rather than around servicing Northern growth.

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