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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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Featured Pathways

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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.

More pathways

Book a demo

Pricing

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Plans & Membership

Our Platform

Expert led content

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

Learning analytics

Keep track of learning progress with our comprehensive data

Interactive learning

Engage with our video hotspots and knowledge check-ins

Testing & certification

Gain CPD / CPE credits and professional certification

Managed learning

Build, scale and manage your organisation’s learning

Integrations

Connect Sustainability Unlocked to your current platform

Featured Content

More featured content

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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Economics for Thriving Within Ecological Limits

Economics for Thriving Within Ecological Limits

Gaya Herrington

In the final video of her pathway, Gaya Herrington outlines a way forward for global society. She discusses concrete proposals for new economic frameworks that do away with the growth goal, and instead center around human and ecological well-being. She also puts the growing popularity of the "degrowth" movement in that perspective. Finally, she addresses the role of business in adopting sustainable practices and the need and opportunity to innovate for a future well-being economy.

In the final video of her pathway, Gaya Herrington outlines a way forward for global society. She discusses concrete proposals for new economic frameworks that do away with the growth goal, and instead center around human and ecological well-being. She also puts the growing popularity of the "degrowth" movement in that perspective. Finally, she addresses the role of business in adopting sustainable practices and the need and opportunity to innovate for a future well-being economy.

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Economics for Thriving Within Ecological Limits

8 mins 24 secs

Overview

Because the current ultimate economic goal of growth leads to social and ecological degradation, we need alternative economic frameworks that are designed around meeting human needs within ecological limits directly. Several of such new economic frameworks exist, under the overall paradigm of "well-being economics". A transition to such a well-being economy is not a capitulation to grim necessity; it is an invitation to co-create a thriving world. A society that is filled with a sense of connection, opportunity, and the peace of mind that this prosperity can last

Key learning objectives:

  • Recognise the limitations and drawbacks of relentless economic growth as a solution to global challenges

  • Understand the principles of alternative economic frameworks, including regenerative economics, post-growth economics, and doughnut economics

  • Comprehend the concept of "degrowth" as a pathway towards transitioning high-income nations to well-being economies

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Summary
Why is perpetual growth not a solution to global challenges?

After many decades of pursuing economic growth, it has not effectively addressed global challenges. In fact, it has exacerbated many of them, and added a few more. It has not lifted everyone out of poverty, stabilised economies, or brought lasting prosperity. Instead, it has contributed to social and ecological degradation, making the prospect of a better future seem elusive for many. Given the many and major negative consequences of the relentless pursuit of growth, it is worth considering some new economic frameworks, such as regenerative economics, post-growth economics, full circle economics, and doughnut economics. These frameworks replace the pursuit of perpetual growth with a striving for human and ecological well-being.

What is the common goal of these alternative economic frameworks?

The commonality among these alternative economic frameworks is a mindset shift from "never enough" to "enough for each", or, from "ever-more" to "better." They all explicitly recognize ecological limits, and accordingly center the economy around human well-being within planetary boundaries. These frameworks propose policies that promote social and economic equality, renewable energy, reduced working hours, high-quality and accessible education and health services, and regenerative agricultural practices. The envisioned outcome of such a well-being economy is one in which people feel fulfilled through a sense of connection to others, nature, and purpose. 

What is degrowth, and how does it differ from other well-being economic frameworks?

The degrowth policy framework differs from other well-being economic frameworks in that it is more of a pathway towards these other frameworks. Degrowth is gaining popularity as a concrete way to transition high-income nations from growth-based economies to these “destination” well-being economies. This reduction should be carried out equitably while ensuring the fulfillment of human needs for all citizens during the transition.

How does degrowth address the specific context of high-income nations versus developing ones?

Degrowth recognises that high-income nations have a responsibility to reduce their ecological footprint because they are already above their share of the Earth's carrying capacity. It emphasises that this approach is primarily meant for economies with relatively high ecological footprints and not intended for developing nations, which may still benefit from more green growth-oriented policies. The goal is to bring down the ecological footprint of high-income nations to enable the rest of the world to grow when this is truly needed for improving well-being in certain regions.

How do the well-being economic frameworks distinguish between "good" and "bad" growth?

Well-being economics and the degrowth frameworks do not necessarily oppose all forms of growth. They differentiate between "good" growth, such as in renewable energy and regenerative agriculture, and "bad" growth, which harms human and ecological well-being. They propose a shrinking in the latter sectors, such as fossil fuels, while encouraging growth in sectors that can contribute to meeting human needs within planetary boundaries.

How can businesses embrace well-being economics and degrowth?

Businesses can still be profitable while aligning with well-being economics and degrowth principles. Companies that focus on providing products and services that genuinely contribute to human and ecological well-being can be competitive and even today already often outperform their solely profit-driven competitors. The focus should be on long-term value creation and innovation, rather than myopically pursuing short-term financial gains. Regulatory developments and the increasing availability of metrics to measure well-being and ecological impact can be expected to further increase this competitive advantage in the future.

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Gaya Herrington

Gaya Herrington

Gaya Herrington is a renowned environmental, social, behavioral, and economic researcher who focuses on the interplay between these trends and the necessary changes for global sustainability. She is a published author on the importance of recognising limits to growth and the potential for increasing global human and ecological well-being by shifting from perpetual growth to meeting human needs within planetary boundaries. She is currently Vice President Sustainability Research at Schneider Electric, the world's most sustainable corporation, and has held various positions, including sustainability consulting at KPMG and policy advisor to the Dutch government. She has given keynote speeches and guest lectures at various international conferences and is an advisor to the Club of Rome.

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