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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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+1,000 expert presented, on-demand video modules

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Managed learning

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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Decoupling vs. Degrowth: Navigating sustainable futures

Decoupling vs. Degrowth: Navigating sustainable futures

Rahul Bhushan

15 years: Structured Products and Sustainability

Decoupling suggests achieving economic growth without harming the environment, challenging the traditional notion that growth always damages the environment.

Decoupling vs. Degrowth: Navigating sustainable futures

In the discourse on sustainable development, the contrasting paradigms of decoupling and degrowth present distinct visions for our ecological and economic future. This article delves into these concepts with a scientific lens, examining their premises, evaluating their feasibility and advocating for decoupling as a viable, evidence-based strategy.

Decoupling: Growth in harmony with nature

Decoupling is an innovative concept proposing that economic growth can be achieved independently of environmental degradation. This approach suggests that through technological advancement and smarter resource management, it’s possible to enhance economic productivity while minimising ecological footprints.

Decoupling in Practice: The Rise of Green Technologies

Consider the evolution of green technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs). The sector’s growth, propelled by breakthroughs in battery technology and policy support, is a prime example of decoupling. It demonstrates how economic expansion can coexist with reduced carbon emissions, challenging the traditional paradigm of industrial growth.

Degrowth: A doctrine of contraction

Degrowth advocates for a conscious reduction in economic activity, positing that this is necessary to mitigate environmental degradation. It argues that a smaller economy would use fewer natural resources, thereby reducing environmental stress.

Historical Perspective on Degrowth-Styled Predictions

The Great Horse Manure Crisis of the 1890s: In the late 19th century, major cities faced a crisis due to the overwhelming amount of horse manure from urban transportation. It was predicted that cities like London would be buried in manure. This crisis was unexpectedly resolved with the advent of the automobile, which replaced horses as the primary means of urban transportation, illustrating how technological innovation can solve seemingly insurmountable problems.

Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb”: Ehrlich’s 1968 prediction of massive food shortages due to overpopulation underestimated the potential of agricultural innovations, which have substantially increased food production.

Driving in nature

The Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth” (1972): This report predicted that the world would run out of various key resources before the end of the 20th century due to overconsumption. However, these predictions underestimated technological advances and resource substitution capabilities, leading to the continuation of resource availability far beyond their projected timelines.

Ozone Layer Depletion in the Late 20th Century: In the late 20th century, scientists predicted severe global consequences due to the depletion of the ozone layer, primarily caused by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). The Montreal Protocol of 1987 led to a phase-out of these substances and the ozone layer has since been recovering, averting the major environmental and health crises that were predicted.

Y2K Computer Bug (2000): Leading up to the year 2000, there was widespread fear that the Y2K computer bug would cause major disruptions in computer systems worldwide, potentially leading to significant breakdowns in societal infrastructure. While some issues did arise, the global catastrophes predicted did not happen, largely due to extensive remediation efforts.

Examining Case Studies of Decoupling

Denmark’s Wind Energy Transformation: Denmark’s investment in wind energy has not only reduced its carbon emissions but also bolstered its economy. The wind sector now accounts for a significant proportion of the country’s total energy consumption and exemplifies how targeted investments can lead to sustainable economic growth.

wind turbines

Japan’s Energy Efficiency Post-Fukushima: In response to the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Japan refocused its energy strategy towards efficiency and renewables. This pivot has improved its energy intensity significantly, showcasing how crises can lead to more sustainable economic models.

Singapore’s Water Management Innovations: The NEWater project in Singapore demonstrates how innovative water management can transform a scarcity into an asset. By 2021, the project supplied a substantial portion of Singapore’s water needs, underlining the potential for technological solutions in sustainable development.

Conclusion: The scientific foundation for decoupling

The scientific examination of decoupling reveals it as a pragmatic and optimistic approach to sustainable development, contrasting sharply with the historically inaccurate predictions and potential socioeconomic risks associated with degrowth. Decoupling offers a path forward where economic growth and environmental stewardship coexist, driven by human ingenuity and technological innovation. As we confront our environmental challenges, the adoption of decoupling emerges as a scientifically sound, rational and optimistic strategy for a sustainable and prosperous future.

This article originally appeared on Rize ETF.

Rahul Bhushan
About the author

Rahul Bhushan

Rahul Bhushan, a seasoned asset manager with over a decade of experience, has a proven track record in building ETFs, including Europe's first battery technology ETF, an e-commerce ETF, an environmental impact ETF, and a sustainable food and agriculture ETF. His expertise in product development, strategy, research, sustainability, and client delivery, coupled with his willingness to "take bets" on finance trends, has enabled him to provide unique perspectives and solutions to investors, resulting in better investment outcomes. Currently, he is co-founder and director of Rize ETF, a London-based asset manager and ETF provider specialising in thematic and sustainable ETFs for European investors.

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