Ways Out of the Growth Trap

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1965 ... January 1, 2020

Ways Out of the Growth Trap:
Trade Unions, Climate Crisis and the "Ecology of Work"

Ulrich Brand

As the remarkable success of "Fridays for Future" and "Extinction Rebellion" shows, the climate crisis is pushing onto the agenda ever more strongly. Such a push is urgently needed because the window during which its worst effects could be prevented is closing rapidly. Accordingly, the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 90 per cent by the year 2050 is now widely accepted, although climate movements demand a significantly earlier drop in CO2 emissions toward zero. What needs more attention is that the consumption of natural resources must also be drastically addressed in the industrialized countries.

At this point, however, the ‘ever more and ever faster’ creed of constant production increasingly blocks an ecologically compatible mode of production and living. Currently, global resource and climate policy continue to point in an entirely different direction, namely that of unsustainable development. This tendency is related to the rise of emerging countries, such as China, and the enormous... rise in material prosperity there, but also to the entirely insufficient course change in early industrialized countries. The imperial mode of production and living appears to be firmly anchored: The unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are based on an -- in principle -- unlimited appropriation of the resources and labour power of both the global North and the global South, and of a disproportionate claim to global sinks (like forests and oceans in the case of CO2). A core mechanism of the functioning of the imperial mode of living -- more precisely: the imperial mode of production and living -- is that worldwide relationships of domination, power and exploitation remain intact and at the same time invisible, i.e. that they are in a way normalized within Northern societies.

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