Against green growth

In: Uncategorized

19 Sep 2009

In the run-up to the Copenhagen summit in December there is no doubt going to be more of an obsession with climate change than ever. One area in which this is clear is in relation to development. A couple of key recent reports on the subject have made a concerted effort to redefine it in relation to climate change:

The World Development Report 2010 from the World Bank on Development and Climate Change The. There is also an accompanying World Bank blog combining the two topics.

– From the United Nations there is World Economic and Social Survey 2009: Promoting Development, Saving the Planet which covers similar ground as the World Bank report.

The combination of climate change and development can only damage understanding of both topics. No doubt there is a relationship between the two – it is a truism that the poor will suffer more as a result of climate change than the rich – but they should be kept logically distinct. Combining the two is essentially a way of putting limits on the possibilities for development. Despite the sometimes ambitious sounding rhetoric what is essentially being said is that development must be limited for the sake of the planet.

This combination of climate change and development also points to a broader and even more retrograde trend. It is what could be called “the climate change-isation of everything”. No doubt there is a snappier way of putting it – any suggestions please email me – but virtually every social problem nowadays seem to be being redefined in relation to climate change. It has become more of a moral category than a scientific one.