IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Green growth, degrowth, and the commons


  • Michael Jakob
  • Ottmar Edenhofer


The concepts of ‘green growth’ and ‘degrowth’ occupy central positions in the public debate on the relationship between economic growth and the environment. While proponents of the former approach claim that environmental measures can promote growth by, for example, more efficient use of natural resources, proponents of the latter maintain that environmental integrity can only be upheld by slowing down growth. This paper argues that both approaches constitute inadequate foundations for public policy as they fail to appropriately conceptualize social welfare. We show how policy aimed at social welfare can be understood as managing a portfolio of capital stocks, some of which exhibit the characteristics of ‘commons’ (i.e. common pool resources and public goods). We then propose a programme of ‘welfare diagnostics’, which aims at establishing minimum thresholds for capital stocks essential to welfare as a guide for real-world policy formulation, and discuss the role of appropriation of natural resource rents for its practical implementation. We conclude by highlighting the central role of scientific policy advice in determining how different conceptions of welfare would be reflected in setting targets and choosing the means to achieve them.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Jakob & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2014. "Green growth, degrowth, and the commons," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(3), pages 447-468.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:30:y:2014:i:3:p:447-468.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Creutzig, Felix, 2020. "Limits to Liberalism: Considerations for the Anthropocene," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 177(C).
    2. Du, Shaofu & Wang, Lei & Hu, Li & Zhu, Yangguang, 2019. "Platform-led green advertising: Promote the best or promote by performance," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 115-131.
    3. Savin, Ivan & Drews, Stefan & van den Bergh, Jeroen, 2021. "Free associations of citizens and scientists with economic and green growth: A computational-linguistics analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 180(C).
    4. Theodoros Zachariadis, 2016. "Proposal for a Green Tax Reform in Cyprus," Cyprus Economic Policy Review, University of Cyprus, Economics Research Centre, vol. 10(2), pages 127-139, December.
    5. Gramkow, Camila, 2020. "Green fiscal policies: An armoury of instruments to recover growth sustainably," Estudios y Perspectivas – Oficina de la CEPAL en Brasilia 5, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    6. Clive L. Spash & Clemens Gattringer, 2016. "The Economics and Ethics of Human Induced Climate Change," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2016_02, Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    7. Pahle, Michael & Pachauri, Shonali & Steinbacher, Karoline, 2016. "Can the Green Economy deliver it all? Experiences of renewable energy policies with socio-economic objectives," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 1331-1341.
    8. Drews, Stefan & Savin, Ivan & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2019. "Opinion Clusters in Academic and Public Debates on Growth-vs-Environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 141-155.
    9. Steckel, Jan Christoph & Rao, Narasimha D. & Jakob, Michael, 2017. "Access to infrastructure services: Global trends and drivers," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 109-117.
    10. Jie Wu & Dacheng Huang & Zhixiang Zhou & Qingyuan Zhu, 2020. "The regional green growth and sustainable development of China in the presence of sustainable resources recovered from pollutions," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 290(1), pages 27-45, July.
    11. Felix Ekardt, 2017. "Grenzen des Nachhaltigkeitsmanagements in interdisziplinärer Perspektive [Limits to sustainability management in an interdisciplinary perspective]," NachhaltigkeitsManagementForum | Sustainability Management Forum, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 33-41, June.
    12. Drews, Stefan & Antal, Miklós & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2018. "Challenges in Assessing Public Opinion on Economic Growth Versus Environment: Considering European and US Data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 265-272.
    13. Tong, Chao & Ding, Shuai & Wang, Bin & Yang, Shanlin, 2020. "Assessing the target-availability of China’s investments for green growth using time series prediction," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 537(C).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:30:y:2014:i:3:p:447-468.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Oxford University Press to update the entry or send us the correct email address or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.