From the front lines of economics and policymaking, a compelling case that economic growth is a force for good and a blueprint for enrolling it in the fight against climate change.
Economic growth is wrecking the planet. It's the engine driving climate change, pollution, and the shrinking of natural spaces. To save the environment, will we have to shrink the economy? Might this even lead to a better society, especially in rich nations, helping us break free from a pointless obsession with material wealth that only benefits the few? Alessio Terzi takes these legitimate questions as a starting point for a riveting journey into the socioeconomic, evolutionary, and cultural origins of our need for growth. It's an imperative, he argues, that we abandon at our own risk.
Terzi ranges across centuries and diverse civilizations to show that the focus on economic expansion is deeply interwoven with the human quest for happiness, well-being, and self-determination. Growth, he argues, is underpinned by core principles and dynamics behind the West's rise to affluence. These include the positivism of the Enlightenment, the acceleration of science and technology and, ultimately, progress itself. Today's growth contributes to the stability of liberal democracy, the peaceful conduct of international relations, and the very way our society is organized through capitalism. Abandoning growth would not only prove impractical but would also sow chaos, exacerbating conflict within and among societies.
This does not mean we have to choose between chaos and environmental destruction. Growth for Good presents a credible agenda to enrol capitalism in the fight against climate catastrophe. With the right policies and the help of engaged citizens, pioneering nations can set in motion a global decarbonization wave and in parallel create good jobs and a better, greener, healthier world.
Introduction: The Origins of Discontent
I. Economic Growth and Capitalism
1. The Limits of Economic Growth
2. Growth and the Mechanics of Capitalism
3. Post-Growth Dystopia
4. The Italian Canary in the Growthless Coalmine
II. The Green Plan to Avoid Disaster
5. The True Origins of the Growth Imperative
6. Understanding the Winds of Change
7. The Global Fight for Planet Earth
8. A Blueprint for Green Capitalism
Conclusion: The Future of Growth in a Green World
Appendix A. GDP and Energy Return on Energy Investment
Appendix B. China’s Great Withdrawal and Japan’s Seclusion
Alessio Terzi is Economist at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs. Prior to this, he was an Affiliate Fellow at the think tank Bruegel and a Fulbright Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research and commentaries have appeared in leading media outlets including BBC World News, Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
"An exploration of what steps can turn the growth we have into the sustainable variety, and sets out a green strategy."
– Diane Coyle, Enlightenment Economics
"Although [Terzi] acknowledges the urgent need to attend to climate change and income inequality, he makes the case that only the resources made available by an expanding market economy will suffice to address these problems."
– Barry Eichengreen, Foreign Affairs
"Are capitalism and economic growth the source of humanity's most pressing problems – climate change in particular – or the solution? Whichever way you come out on this question, this book will be a revelation. Terzi's optimistic and compelling message is that a green and more equitable future is possible, but only if we remake capitalism as we know it."
– Dani Rodrik, Harvard University
"Growth for Good is thought-provoking and important, and builds a compelling case by linking the literature on economic growth, inequality, and climate change. I hope this book reaches the hands of economic advisors of key politicians and persuades them to embrace the future."
– Roger Fouquet, editor of Handbook on Green Growth
"This important book takes the reader on a journey through economic history to conclude that people, planet, and prosperity are not only compatible – they are inseparable. A must-read for policymakers, and anyone interested in fighting climate change."
– Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for Economy and former Prime Minister of Italy
"This book is an extremely readable guide as to both why we need to treat climate change so much more seriously as well as why such a path might deliver better sustainable and fairer economic growth."
– Jim O'Neill, Member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom