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Some clear arguments debunking the Green Growth hypothesis

by Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy, 2017

One of the most concise explanations of the limits to Green Growth. It explains how, as the economy grows, even with high carbon taxation and gains in energy efficiency, resource use continues to grow beyond the biophysical boundaries of the planet.

by Jason Hickel and Giorgos Kallis, New Political Economy, 2019

A short history of the emergence of Green Growth in international policy, followed by an in-depth analysis of two pillars of Green Growth theory: decoupling material resource use from GDP growth, and decoupling carbon emissions from GDP growth. The empirical evidence found on both accounts does not support Green Growth theory.

by Giorgos Kallis et al., Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 2018

An academic article analysing, from an ecological economist perspective, the theoretical foundations that would make green growth possible: the idea that we could 'decouple' material throughput from economic growth via gains in energy efficieny and transitioning to cleaner sources of energy.

by Parrique T. et al., The European Environmental Bureau, 2019

This report reviews the empirical and theoretical literature to assess the validity of the hypothesis that we can enjoy both economic growth and environmental sustainability. The conclusion is both overwhelmingly clear and sobering: not only is there no empirical evidence supporting the existence of a decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures on anywhere near the scale needed to deal with environmental breakdown, but also, and perhaps more importantly, such decoupling appears unlikely to happen in the future.


Green Growth is the big plan to deal with environmental damage while still growing the global economy. Can we trust it? Check out this short explainer from The Rules for answers.


Some insights as to whether or not the Green New Deal represents a solution to the environmental crisis

by Upstream, Podcast, 2022

A 2-part documentary podcast exploring what happens when we simply paint capitalism green without addressing its fundamental global operating principles and processes. What is the dark side of the energy transition — particularly for the Global South and Indigenous communities? Part two explores the history of the Green New Deal, looking at different versions of it in the USA and Europe, including the Red Deal and DiEM25's Green New Deal for Europe.


by Ashish Kothari, Wall Street International, 2020

The Green New Deal is the most progressive manifesto of any American politician (and paralleled by UK's Labour Party under Corbyn) for a long time. But it also has fundamental flaws. This article looks at them critically, as a nudge to make their visions even more pathbreaking, and for all of us as close or distant sympathists or supporters to make our own campaigns more transformative.

by Robert Pollin, New Left Review, 2018

In this academic article, Robert Pollin lays out why he believes degrowth is not a valid proposal to tackle the envrionmental crisis and why the Green New Deal is.

by Giorgos Kallis, Truthout, 2019

This article scrutinises the position of economic growth in the mind of Green New Deal (GND) advocate Robert Pollin, and explains how a transition to a growing economy running on 100% renewable energy is probably not possible. Nor is it desirable.

between Robert Pollin and Peter Victor, The Real News, 2016

A good summary of the different positions in regards to achieving environmnetal sustainability with or without economic growth, clarifying statements such as "21 countries have reduced their carbon emissions while growing in GDP". The second part of the debate is available here.

by Vijay Kolinjivadi & Ashish Kothari, 2020

A good analysis of what the GND proposes, why it is groound-breaking, and why if it does not account for globalized production, a GND in the Global North will merely spur the imperialist quest for cheaper resources and labour to satisfy “eco-friendly” consumption.

by Richard Fuchs et al., Nature, 2020

Evidence that Europe's Green Deal does not go as far as it should when it comes to reduing its carbon footprint. Territorial-based emissions as understood in the Paris Agreement are not sufficient: to be successful Europe's Green Deal ought to esure it lowers its global carbon footprint.

Podcast featuring Franziska Brantner and Dr. Tadzio Müller, Luminary Podcasts, 2020

Live debate on whether the EU's 'Green Deal', a plan to deliver both economic growth and carbon neutrality, is really achievable. Featuring Franziska Brantner of the German Green Party taking on renowned climate activist Dr. Tadzio Müller.


A 7 min video by Vox introducing the Green New Deal's ambitions and why it is so relevant in tackling climate change.


by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

This is the latest report produced by the IPCC on climate change, worth reading to truly inform yourself of 'the science' that the world's top scientists agree upon, and to see the role carbon sequestration technologies such as BECCS play in keeping global warming to below 1.5C.

by Paul Brockway & Steve Sorrell, Carbon Brief, 2021

A review of energy efficiency gains and losses due to the rebound effect. Over of all gains are lost to the rebound effect, and in some cases are actually reversed (energy consumption goes up). Currently, climate models do not factor in the rebound effect, resulting in global energy scenarios overestimating the potential for energy savings and underestimating future global energy demand.

by Glen Peters at the 9th Trondheim Conference on CO2 Capture, Transport and Storage

A 20min keynote presentation analysing the IPCC 1.5C report's reliance on negative emission technologies (BECCS in particular) and the risks associated to it. You can find additional information in Glen Peters and Kevin Anderson's paper of the same name, available here.

Paul J. Burke et al., Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, 2015

An in-depth analysis of GDP growth and carbon emissions in 189 different countries across 49 years. It finds that emissions decline during a recession, and grow more slowly in subsequent years. Also, if GDP growth is particularly rapid in emissions-intensive economies, global emissions should be expected to grow more quickly.

by Thomas O. Wiedmann, Heinz Schandl, Manfred Lenzen, Daniel Moran, Sangwon Suh, James West, and Keiichiro Kanemoto, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013

This original research paper addresses a key issue in sustainability science: How many and which natural resources are needed to sustain modern economies? Simple as it may seem, this question is far from trivial to answer and has indeed not been addressed satisfactorily in the scholarly literature. We use the most comprehensive and most highly resolved economic input–output framework of the world economy together with a detailed database of global material flows to calculate the full material requirements of all countries covering a period of two decades. Called the “material footprint,” this indicator provides a consumption perspective of resource use and new insights into the actual resource productivity of nations.

by Christopher T. M. Clack et al., PNAS, 2017

An in-depth academic article arguing against the idea that an energy transition to 100% solar, wind and hydro-electric is possible. Highlighting the difficulties inherent in renewable energy supply, the study concludes that "policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power."

by David J. Murphy and Charles A. S. Hall, New York Academy of Sciences, 2010

An in-depth explanation of how fossil fuels differ from renewables in terms of how much more energy they can produce with relatively little investment. Crucial in considering how a transition to renewables will happen while growing our energy use and the economy.

by Dominik Wiedenhofer et al., Environmental Research Letters, 2020

As long as economic growth is a major political goal, decoupling growth from resource use and emissions is a prerequisite for a sustainable net-zero emissions future. However, empirical evidence for absolute decoupling, i.e., decreasing resource use and emissions at the required scale despite continued economic growth, is scarce and scattered across different research streams. This two-part systematic review, assesses how and to what extent decoupling has been observed and what can be learnt for addressing the sustainability and climate crisis.

by Richard York, Nature, 2012

This article show sthat the average pattern across most nations of the world over the past fifty years is one where each unit of total national energy use from non-fossil-fuel sources displaced less than one-quarter of a unit of fossil-fuel energy use and, focusing specifically on electricity, each unit of electricity generated by non-fossil-fuel sources displaced less than one-tenth of a unit of fossil-fuel-generated electricity. These results challenge conventional thinking in that they indicate that suppressing the use of fossil fuel will require changes other than simply technical ones such as expanding non-fossil-fuel energy production.

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