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Perpetual economic growth 'is not sustainable'

Perpetual economic growth 'is not sustainable'

The coalition government risks making the same mistakes as the previous administration if it continues the pursuit of perpetual economic growth, experts will warn this week.

At the first international Steady State Economy Conference, Andrew Simms, policy director of the New Economics Foundation, will say that never-ending growth is ecologically unsustainable and argue the case for an alternative economy, where the goal is economic stability instead of GDP growth.  

The conference, which takes place in Leeds on 19 June, is organised by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) and Economic Justice for All. The event aims to devise new policy recommendations to allow the UK economy to move away from its primary focus on growth to a more sustainable alternative. The panel will include six members of the University of Leeds Sustainability Research Institute. 

"Look no further than BP's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to see the consequence of trying to live beyond our environmental means," Mr Simms will say at the event. "We can no more have infinite economic growth than a bird currently fishing off the Louisiana coast can come up squeaky clean."  

"Our challenge is not only to break our fossil fuel addiction, but to engineer our economy into equilibrium with the biosphere in order that we may survive and thrive lastingly."  

Policies up for discussion at the one-day conference include the transfer of money creation from private banks to the public sector to stop debt from rising and to decrease the need for economic growth. Other recommendations include a shorter working week to prevent unemployment, a minimum and maximum income to reduce inequality and new indicators of progress to supplement, or even replace, GDP.  

Keynote speakers at the conference include Dan O'Neill, who is the European Director of CASSE, and part of the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds . 

Mr O'Neill will tell attendees: "Endless economic growth on a finite planet is not sustainable, and even if it were, it would be a poor choice of goals for the government to pursue because it's not improving people's lives in the UK.  

"We have organised this conference because we are disillusioned by the mainstream response to the crisis we are facing.  It's time for a new economics of sustainability, where the goal is better lives, not more stuff."  

The conference will take place at The Rose Bowl, Leeds Metropolitan University from 10:00 to 18:00 on Saturday, June 19. 

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

Notes to editors  

Speakers at the first international Steady State Economy Conference include: 

  • Peter Victor, author of Managing Without Growth and Professor in Environmental Studies, York University , Canada
  • Andrew Simms , Policy Director, New Economics Foundation
  • Dan O'Neill, European Director, Center for Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE)
  • Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth and Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey
  • Kate Pickett, co-author of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York
  • Franny Armstrong, Director of The Age of Stupid and founder of 10:10
  • David Fell, Director and co-founder of Brook Lyndhurst

Additional information on the speakers and workshops is available at the conference website

CASSE is an international non-governmental organisation that advances the precepts of the steady state economy to citizens.  

Economic Justice for All is a Leeds-based economics and sustainability debating group.

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