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Love of economic growth can hinder climate action

Mixed and often contradictory messages are turning the task of halting the headlong rush to planetary resource depletion into a nightmare of missed opportunities.

Urgent calls to reduce, reuse and recycle are crashing into government pleas to spend more. It’s especially true now that the pressure is on governments to boost economies after two years of pandemic destruction.

The problem is not just that changing human behaviour is fiendishly complicated, especially when starting from a position of vast inequalities in income, welfare and opportunities. It is also that Gross Domestic Product, or GDP — the global benchmark of success or failure —  is itself deeply flawed, taking no account of sustainability, renewability or environment.

In the mantra of GDP, all consumption is good because it fuels the economy. The more the merrier.

But running a country using GDP as the main measure of progress is like driving a car with the…

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