Twitter has recently advertised a clash of opinions between two supporters of renewable energy, the Conservative growthist Michael Liebreich and the allegedly ‘degrowthist’ Tim Jackson. To what extent are Liebreich and Jackson right in their arguments? I must say, I’ve always had doubts about arguments for ‘zero’ economic growth. This is partly because I don’t believe that practical measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions reduce economic growth. Also I doubt whether the complex interaction of factors that generate greenhouse gas emissions can be represented very well in theories about the ‘steady state’ economy. But I do very much doubt whether people who advocate such a view, ie essentially that there are more important things that economic growth, can be regarded as any sort of a threat. In practice whatever their philosophical leanings, these people recommend doing things like conserving resources and using renewable ones. These are not even activities that necessarily threaten economic growth provided they involve a decrease in use of material non-renewable resources. They are, in general, peace loving and anti-exploitative. If everyone was like that the world would in fact be a much better place! So why does Liebreich spend time attacking Jackson et al? Really it’s about arguments in the Conservative Party between people like Liebreich who argue correctly that people can make a lot more money from renewable energy than they can from fossil fuels and nuclear power, and atavists like Nigel Lawson and the Global Warming Policy Foundation who do not recognise the challenge of climate change. But in order to conduct this argument Liebreich thinks he can impress his Tory colleagues by bashing the (much Tory hated) leftist museli gobblers.
Dave Toke’s Blog 8th Nov 2018 read more »