All countries have a common objective. Produce more wealth than the previous year to stimulate their growth.A
change of mind: From growth to decline It
is established that the more wealth a country has to share, the more it has the capacity to improve the living conditions of its people. Since the 1980s, however, some have been advocating not growth but rather decline, and this is the logic of those in favour of decline: the more a country produces, the more it pollutes. As a result, natural resources are being depleted more and more quickly (oil, gas, coal, sand, water…). According to them, since these resources are limited on earth, and the world’s population is constantly growing, the world will face significant shortages. These shortages will cause serious economic, environmental and geopolitical crises, and in extreme cases, the extinction of the human species.
Decline: A reduction in world production?
It is to anticipate these crises that proponents of degrowth advise a gradual reduction in world production. It is impossible to consider stopping the growth of developing countries when their populations cannot always meet their most basic needs. In addition, these countries consume far fewer natural resources than those of developed countries. It would therefore make more sense to reduce production in these already developed countries first.
How to reduce production?
In order for production to decrease, a country’s consumption must decrease. People must change the way they consume by consuming less goods and services. Let’s take the example of a typical inhabitant. Instead of throwing away and buying new goods, he can very well give, buy or exchange these goods second-hand, and people should also be less individualistic and therefore more supportive. For example, in order to avoid that the reduction in production leads to an increase in unemployment, you should agree to reduce your working time to share jobs. This is one of the solutions to be adopted, but it is not without consequences. Indeed, a reduction in working time would lead to a reduction in wages and thus in the purchasing power of employees. A significant drop in salaries would also mean making less contributions to pension organizations.
How can this model work properly?
In order for this model to work properly, advocates of degrowth point out that international cooperation is essential. All countries must agree on common rules. For example, by imposing CO2 emission limits. Moreover, in general terms, a country agrees to impose binding rules on its companies only if other countries do the same. While the theory of decline is a source of much ink on the sustainability of the current system, it is often described as utopian because it requires major cultural changes and global solidarity that seems impossible to put in place because of many conflicts of interest.