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Energy, Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: Five Propositions

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  • Steven Sorrell

    ()
    (Sussex Energy Group, SPRU—Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex, Sussex House, Brighton, BN1 9QE, UK)

Abstract

This paper advances five linked and controversial propositions that have both deep historical roots and urgent contemporary relevance. These are: (a) the rebound effects from energy efficiency improvements are significant and limit the potential for decoupling energy consumption from economic growth; (b) the contribution of energy to productivity improvements and economic growth has been greatly underestimated; (c) the pursuit of improved efficiency needs to be complemented by an ethic of sufficiency; (d) sustainability is incompatible with continued economic growth in rich countries; and (e) a zero-growth economy is incompatible with a fractional reserve banking system. These propositions run counter to conventional wisdom and each highlights either a "blind spot" or "taboo subject" that deserves closer scrutiny. While accepting one proposition reinforces the case for accepting the next, the former is neither necessary nor sufficient for the latter.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 6 (June)
Pages: 1784-1809

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Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:2:y:2010:i:6:p:1784-1809:d:8718

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Related research

Keywords: rebound effect; steady-state economy; monetary reform;

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References

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  1. Sue Wing, Ian, 2008. "Explaining the declining energy intensity of the U.S. economy," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 21-49, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Stocker, Andrea & Großmann, Anett & Madlener, Reinhard & Wolter, Marc Ingo, 2011. "Sustainable energy development in Austria until 2020: Insights from applying the integrated model "e3.at"," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 6082-6099, October.
  2. Bruce Tonn & Paul Frymier & Jared Graves & Jessa Meyers, 2010. "A Sustainable Energy Scenario for the United States: Year 2050," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(12), pages 3650-3680, November.
  3. Borozan, Djula, 2013. "Exploring the relationship between energy consumption and GDP: Evidence from Croatia," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 373-381.
  4. Graham Palmer, 2012. "Does Energy Efficiency Reduce Emissions and Peak Demand? A Case Study of 50 Years of Space Heating in Melbourne," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(7), pages 1525-1560, July.
  5. Sjak Smulders & Michael Toman & Cees Withagen, 2014. "Growth Theory and "Green Growth"," OxCarre Working Papers, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford 135, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.

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