Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS/Urban Lab Waste: "Goodbye Green Growth"? Why the problem of growth misidentifies our predicament

by Timothy Mitchell (Columbia). Chaired by Andrew Barry (Geography, UCL)

timothy mitchell

16 January 2020

The climate emergency confronts us with the problem of growth. Can we avert a planetary catastrophe by altering the ways we consume resources, adopting a new path of “green growth”? Or is the survival of human societies incompatible with continued economic expansion, requiring the radical alternative of de-growth? Answers on both sides assume that growth is a defining feature of capitalism. But in what sense? Growth is not the essential character of capitalist modernity, Mitchell argues, but its alibi. Rather like the concept of market exchange in the nineteenth century, growth is the abstraction that simultaneously explains our relationship to the material world and to one another, and misidentifies it.

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