That makes logical sense but if a government were to pursue an active policy of "degrowth" we had better nail down exactly what it means.
Luckily the latest issue of Ecological Economics (a post-normal science journal) has the answer.
It appears to be that "a-growth" is better than degrowth. Now I need to find out exactly how to define "a-growth".
Environment versus growth — A criticism of “degrowth” and a plea for “a-growth”
Jeroen C.J.M. van den Berghlow
In recent debates on environmental problems and policies, the strategy of “degrowth” has appeared as an alternative to the paradigm of economic growth. This new notion is critically evaluated by considering five common interpretations of it. One conclusion is that these multiple interpretations make it an ambiguous and rather confusing concept. Another is that degrowth may not be an effective, let alone an efficient strategy to reduce environmental pressure. It is subsequently argued that “a-growth,” i.e. being indifferent about growth, is a more logical social aim to substitute for the current goal of economic growth, given that GDP (per capita) is a very imperfect indicator of social welfare. In addition, focusing ex ante on public policy is considered to be a strategy which ultimately is more likely to obtain the necessary democratic–political support than an ex ante, explicit degrowth strategy. In line with this, a policy package is proposed which consists of six elements, some of which relate to concerns raised by degrowth supporters.
In defence of "degrowth" we have the following paper which makes it clear that degrowth is a "a radical political project that offers a new story and a rallying slogan for a social coalition built around the aspiration to construct a society that lives better with less."
Sounds great. Count me in.
In defence of degrowth
This article defends the proposal of sustainable degrowth. A starting premise is that resource and CO2 limits render further growth of the economy unsustainable. If degrowth is inevitable, the question is how it can become socially sustainable, i.e. a prosperous and stable, rather than a catastrophic, descent. Pricing mechanisms alone are unlikely to secure smooth adaptation; a full ensemble of environmental and redistributive policies is required, including – among others – policies for a basic income, reduction of working hours, environmental and consumption taxes and controls on advertising. Policies like these, that threaten to “harm” the economy, are less and less likely to be implemented within existing market economies, whose basic institutions (financial, property, political, and redistributive) depend on and mandate continuous economic growth. An intertwined cultural and political change is needed that will embrace degrowth as a positive social development and reform those institutions that make growth an imperative. Sustainable degrowth is therefore not just a structuring concept; it is a radical political project that offers a new story and a rallying slogan for a social coalition built around the aspiration to construct a society that lives better with less.