‘You can’t have green growth’: New Enough! Project to launch ‘Degrowth Commission’

Ben Wray

Project seeks to combine ecological political and economic analysis with movement building

  • Enough! project will seek to launch a ‘degrowth commission’ to challenge growth-led economic models in Scotland
  • Outfit will seek to deepen intellectual and campaigning basis for Scotland’s new environmental forces
  • Patrick Harvie and George Kerevan have said the SNP Growth Commission’s plans for Scottish independence are incompatible with a Climate Emergency

A NEW collective seeking to advance the case for environmental justice will launch a “de-growth commission” at its opening event in Glasgow on Thursday.

The Enough! collective draws together activists, researchers and community ecologists to explore the ideas of degrowth in Scotland, and will be launched at the Pearce Insititute in Govan on Thursday 30 May.

One of the project initiators, Bella Caledonia editor Mike Small, told CommonSpace that they faced a necessary struggle to breakdown the idea of perpetual economic growth being the motor of human society.

Small told CommonSpace: “We are talking about growth in the capitalist economy and trying the change the narrative about economy and ecology. De-growth is a concept people find extremely difficult because the concept of growth is so embedded in our psychology and our understanding of the world, that we think everything is derived from it. That’s what we need to challenge.”

Read more: Government in an age of Climate Emergency – Is it time for carbon budgets?

He argued the project was needed to develop new facets of the growing climate action movement in Scotland.

“It’s developing a political analysis of the climate crisis. An understanding that its an economic system that is in crisis and that you can’t have green growth, you can’t have a green capitalism. Ameliorative changes aren’t really going to cut it,” he said.

“While we stand in solidarity with people doing direct action like Extinction Rebellion, we don’t think that that’s a viable long term strategy. That’s more of a piece of theatre or action.

“We want to broaden it so its not just about the environment or carbon, we are working with people who are in other struggles or movements that aren’t purely environmental and trying to work alongside and in collaboration with them, in that sense it’s movement building.”

Small also said that the idea of degrowth was compatible with a ‘just transition’ to a new economy that would protect workers’ rights.

He said: “There are parts of the society you want to grow just as there are parts of the society you want to radically de-grow.”

Enough! seeks to develop four broad aspects of work; a degrowth commission launched from the first meeting and introduced by economist Katherine Trebeck, the development of a cultural activism response to the environmental and economic crisis, the development of a pan-European low-carbon route map making links with activists across the continent and accessible online, and community activism that seeks to link ecological and wider campaigns for social and economic justice.

Opinion: Richard Lane: The sanctity of growth is blocking our future

The de-growth commission comes one month after a motion backing the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission was supported by the party’s spring conference, but only after an amendment opposed by the party leadership on the Scottish currency position was backed by members. Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie and former SNP MP George Kerevan have criticised the Growth Commission’s aim of doubling trend Scottish GDP growth after independence.

Debates about the need for rapid and radical action on global warming have proliferated in recent months with the rise of movements like the school climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion, which has staged disruptive protests in cities across the UK in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2018 call for global warming increases to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C to prevent the worst effects of climate breakdown. The bulk of the emissions cuts, the IPCC found, needed to happen within the next 10-12 years.

The Scottish Government recently announced it was intensifying its climate action efforts with the declaration of a climate emergency by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and a new, more ambitous target for Scotland of net-zero emissions by 2045.

Picture: Enough!

COMMONSPACE FORUM 30 MAY: Climate Change – How do we turn words into actions?