current affairs economics sustainability

The Great Transition

A new economy based on stability, fairness and sustainability is possible, according to the new economics foundation. Their latest report re-imagines the economy for an age of climate change, resource depletion and economic instability, and calls for a ‘great transition’ towards a better society.

Despite the combined crises that face us, politicians are still focused entirely on maintaining the status quo, but business as usual is looking increasingly impossible. According to The Great Transition, business as usual doesn’t make economic sense. Over the next 40 years, the costs of climate change could run from £1.6 to £2.5 trillion, while the social consequences of inequality will cost us £4.5 trillion.

Controversially, the report suggests that Britain’s GDP could be lowered: “As the well-off consume less, headline indicators such as GDP will have to fall by as much as a third.” This feels like a real break-through to me, since so much green economic theory prefers to emphasize ‘green growth’ rather than call time on growth altogether.

This is very exciting – it’s the first time I’ve seen a serious piece of research that backs up our view here at Make Wealth History, showing how an economy can be shrunk towards sustainability without breaking apart. (Perhaps we’re not crazy after all)  The report presents seven key measures for achieving this, including a citizens’ endowment, land reform, reskilling for agriculture, community owned businesses, and our old favourite, the reduced work week.

“This is a bold vision,” say the authors, “but nothing short of a Great Transition will be up to the task of tackling climate change, ending cycles of boom and bust and putting a stop to inequality. We show that not only is such a bold vision necessary, it is possible.”

Check back tomorrow for an excerpt of that vision, ‘a tale of how things turned out right’.


  1. So how does this compare to the Prosperity Without Growth Report? I have (finally) started reading that and have been very impressed by it so far. I look forward to reading this, I am a fan of nef’s work.

  2. Quite a few similarities actually. Both are concerned with building a sustainable economy and re-defining wealth around wellbeing. Prosperity Without Growth deals more with macroeconomics and quite specifically with growth. The Great Transition gets down to policy, and the whole end section is about taking the first necessary steps. It’s also got quite a utopian feel about it in places, which is bold.

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