The Green Growth Agenda: Is This the New Hope?

By Saliem Fakir


It could be argued that the climate change issue has become less about climate justice and more about new profits.

In South Africa, the concept of the green economy is abuzz with nervous energy. There have been numerous conferences on the subject in light of the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference (COP 17) to be held in Durban later this year.

But is “green growth” just about new markets and different types of goods that carry the green label? Is it just about greening an old system or about plugging out of that system?

Looking at the matter more starkly: just because we think we are doing something green, doesn’t mean it will save the planet. It may buy us some time and reduce the impact of our ever-growing ecological footprint, but if we don’t fundamentally shift how we live with nature and if we continue to make demands on it, we remain on track for ecological disaster.

The real elephant in the room is ‘consumption’. It’s been talked about a lot, but little’s been done about it.

Consumption is about desires, many irrational in nature. Desires can only be controlled by individual and collective values that restrain our capacity for over-consumption. If you like, climate change is about psychology and behaviour.

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