Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Greece, Growth, and Green

Caroline Lucas is a co-signatory of a letter about Greece in today's Guardian.
I would have co-signed this letter. If I had written it, it would have read somewhat differently, but politics is the art of compromise.

There has been criticism from at least one Green stalwart because the letter refers to economic growth.

The sentence reads "Repudiation of some [debt] and repayment of the rest linked to economic growth, to give creditors a stake in growing the economy. German postwar debt was managed like this in 1953." the last paragraph says "...policy that can start to rebuild a sustainable Greek economy".

We must understand:

There is a world of difference between a sustainable economy and an economy that is in permanent recession.

The letter lists some of the economic and human malaise that the Greeks are suffering: unemployment, poverty, homelessness, 20% with no access to health, a "public health tragedy".
In its own terms, austerity has failed: the ratio of debt to GDP is now greater, not less.

There is much more, like emigration and the threat of the far Right, that the letter does not mention.

The misery indicated above is not what green politics and economics is about. We are not about poverty, misery and unemployment, we are about a sustainable, steady state economy. To get there from where Greece now stands means working to transform the economy from the destructive linear take-use-dispose model to a cyclical model - build, use, reuse, recycle, build again. We know the parts of the economy that need to be stimulated:

·                                 energy conservation
·                                 renewable energy technologies
·                                 energy efficient goods development and manufacture
·                                 public transport

Pollution Control
·                                 pollution control technology
·                                 waste minimisation
·                                 repair
·                                 recycling

·                                 water management
·                                 sustainable agriculture
·                                 forestry
·                                 timber use
·                                 countryside management

 Human needs
·                                 housing - new building and refurbishment
·                                 improvements to visual environment
·                                 education and training
·                                 counselling, caring and healing
·                                 community work
·                                 community enterprises such as cultural centres
·                                 leisure and tourism
·                                 innovation, research and development in these fields

How can we describe this process of transformation? What will happen in this Green sector? Will it shrink? No. Will it increase/enlarge? Yes. Expand? Yes. Augment? Yes. Develop? Yes.
OK, we have described the process without mentioning the g-word : growth (there, I mentioned it)

I accept it, the g-word is a bad word, and I will endeavor not ever to use it again.
We can get by without it.

But now, please, please can we stop reacting to a certain trigger word and engage with the real world of politics?

Can we start communicating with the electorate our vision of a green, stable, steady-state economy, and explain to them precisely how we propose to get there from the present miserable state in which we find ourselves?


Thank you


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