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Energy, Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: Five Propositions

Abstract: 
"This paper advances five linked and controversial propositions that have both deep historical roots and urgent contemporary relevance. These are: (a) the rebound effects from energy efficiency improvements are significant and limit the potential for decoupling energy consumption from economic growth; (b) the contribution of energy to productivity improvements and economic growth has been greatly underestimated; (c) the pursuit of improved efficiency needs to be complemented by an ethic of sufficiency; (d) sustainability is incompatible with continued economic growth in rich countries; and (e) a zero-growth economy is incompatible with a fractional reserve banking system. These propositions run counter to conventional wisdom and each highlights either a “blind spot” or “taboo subject” that deserves closer scrutiny. While accepting one proposition reinforces the case for accepting the next, the former is neither necessary nor sufficient for the latter. "
Author: 
Steven Sorrell
Institution: 
Sussex Energy Group, SPRU—Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex
Year: 
2010
Input By: 
Caitlin Keegan
Affiliation: 
MIT
Domains-Issue Area: 
Industry Focus: 
Energy
Country: 
United Kingdom
Datatype(s): 
Bibliographies & Reports