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Opinion

What do we really need from Canada’s green economy?

By Ryan M. Katz-Rosene      

'A guiding policy which claims no compromise is necessary in achieving sustainable growth in perpetuity is deaf to the material realities of our biosphere.'

University of Ottawa professor Ryan M. Katz-Rosene writes that 'Canadians arguably need fulfilling and lasting employment, to provide us not only with income, but meaning; yet we also need access to uncontaminated natural resources and ecosystem services, which provide us with sustenance and good health.' Pascual Flores photograph courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

Since the 1970s there has emerged a vast literature exploring the relationship between economic growth and the environment. Fifty years of research has yielded anything but consensus: One major school in the debate claims that humanity long ago overshot Earth’s natural carrying capacity; it thus argues we need to dramatically scale back material consumption (particularly in the West). Another major school argues that growth can be made to be green, as long as environmental damage is accurately priced within the market. There is also a range of radical contributions to this debate, with calls for everything fromeco-socialist revolution to venture-capital backed geoengineering schemes.

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