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Climate Change, Sustainable Welfare and Eco-Social Policies

Author:
  • Max Koch
Publishing year: 2017-03-31
Language: English
Document type: Conference paper: abstract

Abstract english

Comparative empirical studies of the link between economic growth, carbon emissions and ecological footprints (Koch and Fritz 2014; Fritz and Koch 2016) suggest that current Western production and consumption patterns and welfare standards are incompatible with environmental limits and IPCC climate targets. In the absence of evidence for absolute decoupling of economic growth, material resource input and carbon emissions – and allowing for ‘catch-up’ development in poor countries – rich countries would need to review established development pathways and associated welfare standards to bring these in line with ecological thresholds and to reach UN climate targets. The paper discusses the provision of welfare in such a transition process with emphasis on the role of welfare and social policy. First, it introduces the concept of ‘sustainable welfare’ that integrates the two previously separate disciplines of welfare and sustainability research (Koch and Mont 2016). Distributive principles underlying existing welfare systems in the rich countries would need to be extended to include ‘non-citizens’: those affected in other countries and in the future. Sustainable welfare is oriented towards the satisfaction of human needs within ecological limits, from the intergenerational and global perspective. Second, the paper applies this concept to interpret ongoing comparative work on the environmental performance of real-world welfare states and the creation of synergy across economic, social and environmental policies. Finally, the paper discusses potential ‘eco-social’ policies such as wealth sharing, minimum and maximum incomes as well as carbon rationing that have the potential of moving existing (welfare) states closer to environmental sustainability.

Keywords

  • Social Work
  • degrowth
  • climate change
  • sustainable welfare
  • green growth

Other

Published
Max Koch
E-mail: max [dot] koch [at] soch [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor

School of Social Work

+46 46 222 12 68

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School of Social Work
Lund University
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