Ecological transition: growth or degrowth?
To eliminate net CO2 emissions in 2050, two main paths can be considered: the path of decarbonisation of the economy (energy production, industry, transport) and the path of degrowth (reduction of Gross Domestic Product). Can we believe in the decarbonisation track, which is the technological track? The technologies exist: use of green hydrogen to store electricity from renewable sources, electric cars, etc. But can we overcome the obstacles?
The first is social: is it possible to prevent the rise in inequalities generated by the rise in energy prices? The second is macroeconomic: will it be possible to finance the massive additional investments needed? The third obstacle is the scarcity of the raw materials needed to decarbonise the economy: copper and aluminium for electricity networks; nickel, cobalt and lithium for batteries; rare earths for electronics.
If these three obstacles cannot be overcome (they will be all the easier as a certain sobriety will facilitate the transformation of consumption into investment and as the development of the circular economy will reduce the risk of scarcity), then degrowth will be inevitable.
Commission économique pour l'Amérique latine et les Caraïbes (CEPAL)
Groupe Caisse des Dépôts
Banque de France