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Lose Less Instead of Win More: The Failure of Decoupling and Perspectives for Competition in a Degrowth Economy

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  • Volker Mauerhofer

Abstract

This paper aims to provide a comprehensive explanation for the likely failure in the decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation, and also intends to offer perspectives on the new role of competition in a steady state or a degrowth economy. The analysis is based on five different scenarios, and uses the European Union as an example. It is concluded that we must prepare ourselves for a potential incompatibility between sustainability and economic growth. In this respect one can say that the current EU situation is in some ways already quite close to an economic system without growth, although far from sustainable as yet. Two of the four perspectives developed, regarding the new role of competition in an economy without growth, indicate an increase of direct and indirect competition over resources. The other two perspectives point out that regulatory public intervention as well as financial intervention will increase in order to ensure that - despite the revised role of competition - the poorest are still given a chance to develop (e.g. through basic minimum incomes), even in a degrowth economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Volker Mauerhofer, 2013. "Lose Less Instead of Win More: The Failure of Decoupling and Perspectives for Competition in a Degrowth Economy," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 22(1), pages 43-57, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev22:ev2204
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David I. Stern, 2012. "Ecological Economics," Crawford School Research Papers 1203, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. Howard Michael W., 2007. "A NAFTA Dividend: A Guaranteed Minimum Income for North America," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, June.
    3. Spangenberg, Joachim H. & Omann, Ines & Hinterberger, Friedrich, 2002. "Sustainable growth criteria: Minimum benchmarks and scenarios for employment and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 429-443, September.
    4. Scholtens, Bert, 2001. "Borrowing green: economic and environmental effects of green fiscal policy in The Netherlands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 425-435, December.
    5. Binswanger, Mathias, 2001. "Technological progress and sustainable development: what about the rebound effect?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 119-132, January.
    6. MartĂ­nez-Alier, Joan & Pascual, Unai & Vivien, Franck-Dominique & Zaccai, Edwin, 2010. "Sustainable de-growth: Mapping the context, criticisms and future prospects of an emergent paradigm," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1741-1747, July.
    7. Mauerhofer, Volker, 2008. "3-D Sustainability: An approach for priority setting in situation of conflicting interests towards a Sustainable Development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 496-506, January.
    8. Stefan Giljum & Thomas Hak & Friedrich Hinterberger & Jan Kovanda, 2005. "Environmental governance in the European Union: strategies and instruments for absolute decoupling," International Journal of Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 8(1/2), pages 31-46.
    9. Surendra R. Devkota, 2005. "Is strong sustainability operational? An example from Nepal," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(5), pages 297-310.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ecoser:v:29:y:2018:i:pb:p:190-198 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Huang, Beijia & Mauerhofer, Volker, 2016. "Low carbon technology assessment and planning—Case analysis of building sector in Chongming, Shanghai," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 324-331.
    3. Mark Whitehead, 2013. "Degrowth or regrowth?," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 22(2), pages 141-145, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial crisis; environmental degradation; steady state economy; sustainable growth; European Union;

    JEL classification:

    • B50 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - General
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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