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Launch of Limits revisited – a review of the Limits to Growth debate

A new review of the Limits to Growth debate has been published today to coincide with the Launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth.

No imminent exhaustion of physical resources is in sight; but production peaks for several key resources are likely within a few decades.

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  • Forty four years on, review highlights continuing challenges and new limits
  • Production peaks likely within decades, authors find
  • Review provides foundation for All Party Parliamentary Group chaired by Caroline Lucas MP

A new review of the Limits to Growth debate has been published today to coincide with the Launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth.

Four decades after the publication of the Club of Rome’s landmark publication Limits to Growth, the UK government has established a new All Party Parliamentary Group on the Limits to Growth. Chaired by Caroline Lucas, MP, the formal launch event will be held in the House of Commons on 19th April 2016. Speakers include Anders Wijkman, the current co-chair of the Club of Rome and Professor Tim Jackson, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) at the University of Surrey.

To mark the event, the APPG commissioned a new review of the Limits to Growth debate, written by the University of Surrey’s Professor Jackson and freelance environmental science writer, Robin Webster.

Limits Revisited traces the history of the Club of Rome’s report and dispels some of the myths surrounding it. It assesses the historical accuracy of the report’s projections and unravels the debates it inspired over the intervening decades. No imminent exhaustion of physical resources is in sight; but production peaks for several key resources are likely within a few decades. Beyond that point, resources will be harder to extract and society will have to divert resources away from productive activities.

Limits Revisited also draws attention to certain limits which were all but unforeseen in the 1972 report. It highlights in particular the enormous challenge of meeting the 1.50C climate change target established in the Paris Agreement. It also explores the economic and financial challenges of a ‘secular stagnation’.

"The old limits certainly haven’t gone away“, said Professor Jackson, “But new ones have become more visible. The challenge of our times is to transcend those limits and build a lasting and sustainable prosperity.“

"I’m delighted to see the UK government take this ground-breaking initiative“, said Club of Rome co-Chair, Anders Wijkman. "This is a real opportunity to negotiate a positive narrative for change“.

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