Climate change and increasing income inequality have emerged as twin threats to contemporary standards of living, peace and democracy. These two problems are usually tackled separately in the policy agenda. A new breed of radical proposals have been advanced to manage a fair low-carbon transition. In this spirit, we develop a dynamic macrosimulation model to investigate the long-term effects of three scenarios: green growth, policies for social equity, and degrowth. The green growth scenario, based on technological progress and environmental policies, achieves a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at the cost of increasing income inequality and unemployment. The policies for social equity scenario adds direct labour market interventions that result in an environmental performance similar to green growth while improving social conditions at the cost of increasing public deficit. The degrowth scenario further adds a reduction in consumption and exports, and achieves a greater reduction in emissions and inequality with higher public deficit, despite the introduction of a wealth tax. We argue that new radical social policies can combine social prosperity and low-carbon emissions and are economically and politically feasible.
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The EUROGREEN model was developed in Vensim DSS. The code for the model can be viewed at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3624944.
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This research was commissioned by B. Eickhout, P. Lamberts, F. Marcellesi and T. Reintke (members of parliament at the Greens∣EFA Group at the European Parliament). We thank all of them, as well as C. Cattaneo, F. Demaria, O. Derruine, E. Giuliani, P. Guarnieri, G. Kallis, P. Manfredi and L. Piccinini for discussions and suggestions. We also thank the participants at the 6th International Degrowth Conference, held in Malmö, and at the Post-Growth Conference, held at the European Parliament. This research would not have been finalized without funding under the LOCOMOTION project, within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 821105.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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D’Alessandro, S., Cieplinski, A., Distefano, T. et al. Feasible alternatives to green growth. Nat Sustain 3, 329–335 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-0484-y
Nature Sustainability (2022)
Climate Action (2022)
Nature Communications (2021)