In order to avoid climate catastrophe, and recognising that the technological solutions presented are not sufficient, certain experts and activists are calling for degrowth: a critique of the hegemony of growth and the proposal for a different society. This would require the reduction of production and consumption in wealthy countries and the prioritisation of wellbeing, ecological sustainability and social equity.
Presently there are robust proposals for what a degrowth economy could look like, that could achieve even higher levels of wellbeing than those that people presently enjoy, in terms of what really matters to people: in terms of healthcare, education, time with their families, relationships and leisure.
It has been proven that, after a certain point, economic growth fails to raise levels of happiness and wellbeing for people. Economic gains, when they occur, only bring temporary rises in happiness. This then drops back to normal once people are accustomed to it. What matters are not so much the absolute gains in income but the relative gains: how much we have in comparison to the others. We are thus trapped in a perpetual rat race, constantly earning for more so we can get a temporary increase in happiness, and earning for more to get a temporary increase in happiness, over and over again.
Degrowth proposals redress this imbalance. By shifting away from using GDP as a measure of progress we can then focus on what is important to people. By adopting new ways of producing and circulating money we can have a money that is not based on debt, as it currently is, which then creates an imperative of growth to repay that debt. By shortening the working week and introducing a universal basic income we can ensure that everyone has a dignified job and access to crucial services such as healthcare and education. By legislating change in advertising and production standards we can reduce unnecessary throwaway consumption.