Journal Article

Green growth, degrowth, and the commons

Michael Jakob and Ottmar Edenhofer

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 30, issue 3, pages 447-468
Published in print January 2014 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online February 2015 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/gru026
Green growth, degrowth, and the commons

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  • Welfare and Poverty
  • Publicly Provided Goods
  • Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
  • Environmental Economics
  • Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
  • Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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The concepts of ‘green growth’ and ‘degrowth’ occupy central positions in the public debate on the relationship between economic growth and the environment. While proponents of the former approach claim that environmental measures can promote growth by, for example, more efficient use of natural resources, proponents of the latter maintain that environmental integrity can only be upheld by slowing down growth. This paper argues that both approaches constitute inadequate foundations for public policy as they fail to appropriately conceptualize social welfare. We show how policy aimed at social welfare can be understood as managing a portfolio of capital stocks, some of which exhibit the characteristics of ‘commons’ (i.e. common pool resources and public goods). We then propose a programme of ‘welfare diagnostics’, which aims at establishing minimum thresholds for capital stocks essential to welfare as a guide for real-world policy formulation, and discuss the role of appropriation of natural resource rents for its practical implementation. We conclude by highlighting the central role of scientific policy advice in determining how different conceptions of welfare would be reflected in setting targets and choosing the means to achieve them.

Keywords: green growth; degrowth; welfare diagnostics; infrastructure; common property regimes; E62; H23; H41; I31; O44; Q54

Journal Article.  10718 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Welfare and Poverty ; Publicly Provided Goods ; Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue ; Environmental Economics ; Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity ; Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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