Professor Mark Diesendorf said that eventually all countries would need to reduce their energy use, beginning with high-income countries.
In a study published in the Climate Policy journal on Thursday, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) found that substituting fossil fuel energy production with renewable energy would not be enough to reduce global warming.
Mark Diesendorf, author of the study and honorary associate professor at the School of Humanities and Languages, said that eventually all countries would need to reduce their energy use, beginning with high-income countries.
"We have a situation where renewable electricity and total energy consumption are growing quite rapidly alongside one another. So, renewables are chasing a retreating target that keeps getting further away," he pointed out, stressing that the UNSW research add new kindling to the "degrowth" movement, which holds that constant economic growth is incompatible with living sustainably on the planet.
People and governments would need to understand that GDP does not measure the quality of life, which is "contrary to popular belief."
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"Planned degrowth, as opposed to collapse, can be carried out without reducing the quality of life in the countries undergoing it," he said, stressing that while there are many technological policies in place that support a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, little attention has been paid to reducing consumption.
"It does not mean going back to living in caves. But it does mean abandoning the belief of conventional economics that eternal growth is possible on a planet with finite resources," Diesendorf pointed out, adding that the report proposed a set of Universal Basic Services (UBS) and guaranteed jobs which would be funded through greater taxes on a population's richest citizens.
"This job guarantee would also act to reduce the boom-and-bust economic cycles and reduce the risk of inflation," he said and pointed out that while such programs would benefit the vast majority of people, there are major political blockades to their realization.
"The rich's influence on political decision-making should not be underestimated. Other formidable opponents are corporations with vested interests in fossil fuels, deforestation and other destructive industries."