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The Green Economy: Background, Current Position and Prospects

Author: Costanza Cappello
Published Date: 20 November 2008

The phrase the ‘green economy’ has come to refer to an economy which has reduced its negative impacts on nature – air, water, biodiversity and climate. Since the industrial revolution economic growth has been associated with ever greater use of materials and energy, and considerable damage to the natural environment. Over the last forty years there has been mounting concern that this route to development is unsustainable, particularly with the continuing growth of world population, and ever more evidence of the dramatic potential impact of climate change.

The promise of the green economy is to ‘decouple’ economic growth from both greater use of resources and damage to the environment, through the development of new products, processes, services and ways of life. A central concern is to accelerate a shift towards low carbon products and processes. However the green economy label is used much more widely, to encompass changes to water use, forestation, lifestyles and biodiversity. It also encompasses strategies of abatement (to prevent climate change) as well as strategies for adaptation and mitigation.