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Sustainable consumption: The chance for absolute reduction?


One of the wonderful (and sometimes unwieldy and troublesome) characteristics of the concept of sustainable consumption and production is that it can be used to create interlinkages and connect the dots in the complexity of sustainable development challenges: resource scarcity, environmental justice, global health, biodiversity loss, atmospheric pollution, waste generation, etc. This makes SCP the mainstay of sustainable development and in fact brings it around to serving as the "overarching objective" that the 2002 United Nations Johannesburg Summit declared it to be.
Thus, getting serious about sustainable development means getting serious about SCP (or, is it the other way around)? In light of our current ecological footprint (2+ planets), and given the magnitude and urgency of the sustainable development challenge, how about getting serious about the need for absolute reductions to a one-planet level.
Can absolute reductions in material throughput and energy use be achieved within a "reasonable" timeframe? Are there examples where reductions have been demonstrated? What materials are critical and which are substitutable? What targets can be set for resources consumption; what methods would be used to measure this? What structural changes would be needed in society; what institutions? What about regions or populations where consumption needs to increase to meet minimum needs of people? Is a new sustainability science approach needed?
This session intents to reflect on this questions. It starts with briefly introducing the REDUCTIONS project and relates it to ongoing research and political activities.


Umpfenbach & Hirschnitz-Garbers: Exploring consumption-focused policy mixes for absolute decoupling of well-being from resource use and environmental impacts

Stratford: Ensuring equitable access to energy in the context of a cap

Vadovics: Equity within limits: Introducing convergence mapping and initiatives with contraction as well as equity processes