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It’s time we recognised that consumption is the big issue

May 5, 2010

George Monbiot comments on the Guardian’s rather educational national carbon calculator, suggesting the reason why neither Labour nor the Conservatives were willing to try it out: you can’t escape the role of consumption-based economic growth in driving climate change.

You can pursue a policy of economic growth and reduced carbon emissions only by engineering a fudge of the kind the calculator exposes: offshoring one third of our emissions, most of which arise from the goods we consume. The impacts of rising consumption  are hidden by excluding them from national accounts.

Only the Green party has approached this issue honestly, by accepting upfront that economic growth is the problem and that current levels of consumption cannot be sustained. It’s time we called out the other parties on their failure to acknowledge, let alone tackle, this contradiction. And it’s time we all recognised that consumption is the big issue.

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