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Sustainable growth revisited: technology, economics and policy

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  • Paul Ekins

Abstract

This paper discusses the issue of whether environmentally sustainable growth is a feasible aspiration and, if so, how it might be brought about and how the levels of such growth would relate to those currently being experienced. Given the substantial accumulating evidence of serious environmental degradation from current patterns of economic activity, it is clear that these will need to be substantially changed if the ability of the natural environment to support large human populations is to be sustained. Such changes will need to be brought about by strong, sustained policy. Evidence presented in the paper suggests that the technological means of transforming current activities exist, and further evidence is also presented that, given efficient policy, these technologies may be widely implemented with relatively low costs. The key issue is the nature, strength and consistency of the policy signal. While environmental tax reform emerges from the analysis as probably the most promising policy approach, the paper ends with a rather sombre conclusion that, despite this policy instrument’s benefits, there are a number of political reasons why it is likely to be difficult to introduce. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Ekins, 2012. "Sustainable growth revisited: technology, economics and policy," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 24(2), pages 59-77, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:24:y:2012:i:2:p:59-77
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-011-0013-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stern,Nicholas, 2007. "The Economics of Climate Change," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521700801, July.
    2. Strachan, Neil & Kannan, Ramachandran, 2008. "Hybrid modelling of long-term carbon reduction scenarios for the UK," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 2947-2963, November.
    3. Ekins, Paul & Simon, Sandrine, 2001. "Estimating sustainability gaps: methods and preliminary applications for the UK and the Netherlands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 5-22, April.
    4. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
    5. Raimund Bleischwitz, 2011. "Resource Efficiency," Journal of Industrial Ecology, Yale University, vol. 15(5), pages 644-646, October.
    6. Ekins, Paul & Simon, Sandrine & Deutsch, Lisa & Folke, Carl & De Groot, Rudolf, 2003. "A framework for the practical application of the concepts of critical natural capital and strong sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2-3), pages 165-185, March.
    7. J. Pillarisetti & Jeroen Bergh, 2010. "Sustainable nations: what do aggregate indexes tell us?," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 49-62, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Zhong Xiang, 2012. "Competitiveness and Leakage Concerns and Border Carbon Adjustments," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 6(3), pages 225-287, December.

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