Green growth: an oxymoron or our best shot?

Last week Green Alliance hosted an excellent debate on the role of green growth in the economic recovery, chaired by Oliver Morton, energy and environment editor of The Economist. It explored the opportunities and the limits of green growth, and took a frank look at what the alternatives might be. (Not the fictional ‘business as usual’, Michael Jacobs was keen to emphasise)

On the panel were:

In the second half of the debate, embedded above, audience questions shifted to consumer behaviour and nudge. Rhian Kelly from CBI said she thought there were three key factors in encouraging consumers to buy greener products: information, incentives and smart regulation such as choice editing.

But the most interesting comment on this topic came from Tim Jackson, who challenged the whole idea of a consumer-driven shift to a greener economy (8m15). He argues that “a proselytisation to an unwilling consumer public to change their market behaviour” is bound to fail. “Real social investment and changing infrastructure” is what’s needed.

The first half of the debate is also well worth listening to. Mike Jacobs outlined three progressively more ambitious versions of green growth, and emphasised that politically, green growth is crucial narrative.

1. Growth can be greener (a slightly defensive argument)
2. Low carbon investment can stimulate growth
3. Low carbon is the next industrial revolution

Tim Jackson, on the other hand, said the idea of any long-term growth, green or not, was beginning to look “positively heroic”.

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