Anyone who has read Tim Jackson’s brilliant Prosperity Without Growth will be aware that there is plenty of evidence of industries and economies becoming more carbon efficient (per £ in the economy), but no examples of absolute decoupling: economic growth with falling throughput of natural resources / emissions.
So there is a massive question mark over the concept of ‘sustainable growth’ – not that you’d know this from listening to most mainstream politicians.
And so I occasionally find myself in conversations where we try to imagine what a decoupled economy would look like; I know good people who believe that economic growth is possible without breaching environmental limits. This economy would be much more localised than at present, less focused on goods and more on (largely virtual) services.
This came to mind when I came across this morning the launch of the new album by Leeds band the Kaiser Chiefs. Have a look yourself <actually, you can’t anymore – March 2012 edit>. I like it as a potential example of the sort of non-local thing we’d buy and sell in a busy, high-GDP economy that can’t afford much use of natural resources. Innovative, engaging, co-creating (with such a sense of ownership that even a CD addict might give in and start downloading): what’s not to like?