Reject the God of Growth for a Sustainable Future; Tomorrow, Professor Tim Jackson, Economics Commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission, Will Be in Swansea to Launch a Report Calling on the UK Government to Tackle the Economic Crisis through Low Carbon Recovery Measures. Here, He Suggests a New Way of Thinking to Meet the Challenges That Lie Ahead

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Jackson

THIS year is likely to be seen as a defining moment in economic history.

The combination of the severest economic recession since the 1930s; increasingly stark warnings about the risk of accelerating climate change; worsening environmental problems and resource shortages, and the threat of widespread social disruption all leave no room for businessas-usual thinking.

On a more modest scale, 2009 is also a defining moment for the Government. With little more than a year to run in its current term, it faces unprecedented challenges to its own credentials.

But it is also presented with a unique opportunity to create lasting change and make a vital transition to a sustainable low carbon economy.

It's against this backdrop that the Sustainable Development Commission has been developing its advice to the Treasury and to Number 10 regarding the Budget on April 22.

The 2008 Pre-Budget Report indicated some significant shifts in the direction of what we have called a Sustainable New Deal, but at nothing like the scale that is now required given such dire threats both to the global economy and to the global environment.

In Wales, there are signs that the idea of a sustainable and resilient economy are beginning to be taken more seriously. The Welsh Assembly Government is developing a green jobs strategy and is proposing to make sustainable development the central organising principle for government.

This is against the backdrop of its commitment to a 3% annual cut in carbon emissions in areas of devolved responsibility from 2011.

But the current financial crisis not only presents us with a unique opportunity to begin the transition to a low carbon economy. It provides the space for us to question the short-term thinking that has plagued society for decades, and to invest in real change. …