Dans le contexte de crise écologique et sociale que nous connaissons, j'ai découvert avec grand intérêt la littérature sur la décroissance, qui se développe depuis les années 70 et qui donne en fait une multitude d'orientations politiques et de pistes concrètes pour se diriger vers une société plus résiliente, respectueuse des limites planétaires, dans le souci du bien-être, de la justice sociale et de la démocratie (et non plus obsédée par la poursuite de la croissance à tout prix). On peut dire aujourd'hui que la décroissance est un phénomène qui a pris de l'ampleur, et qui mobilise une multitude de chercheurs, notamment rattachés à des universités, et de mouvements sociaux qu'il est intéressant de connaître.
Le récent livre "Ralentir ou périr, l'économie de la décroissance" de Timothée Parrique, sorti en septembre 2022 définit la décroissance comme : "une réduction de la production et de la consommation pour alléger l'empreinte écologique planifiée démocratiquement dans un esprit de justice sociale et dans le souci du bien-être". Celle-ci est en fait une phase transitoire qui permettrait ensuite de nous orienter vers une économie de la post-croissance, elle-même définie comme "une économie stationnaire en relation harmonieuse avec la nature où les décisions sont prises ensembles et où les richesses sont équitablement partagées afin de pouvoir prospérer sans croissance". Nous retrouvons ici quatre points cardinaux (soutenabilité, démocratie, justice, bien-être) comme principes de fonctionnement d'une économie pérenne.
L'article en pièce jointe ci-après, en anglais, également co-rédigé par Timothée Parrique, est une source exceptionnelle car il rassemble, en un texte et en une cartographie, un ensemble de propositions politiques et mesures de décroissance, à partir de l'analyse de plus d'un millier de textes issus de la littérature de la décroissance allant de 2005 à 2020.
Voici le résumé de l'article :
Degrowth – the planned and democratic reduction of production and consumption as a solution to the social-ecological crises – is slowly making its way to the sphere of policy-making. But there is a problem: proposals are scattered through a voluminous literature, making it difficult for decision-makers to pinpoint the concrete changes associated with the idea of degrowth. To address this issue, we conducted a systematic mapping of the degrowth literature from 2005 to 2020 using the RepOrting standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses (ROSES) methodology. Out of a total of 1166 texts (articles, books, book chapters, and student theses) referring to degrowth, we identified 446 that include specific policy proposals. This systematic counting of policies led to a grand total of 530 proposals (50 goals, 100 objectives, 380 instruments), which makes it the most exhaustive degrowth policy agenda ever presented. To render this toolbox more accessible, we divided it into in 13 policy themes – food, culture and education, energy and environment, governance and geopolitics, indicators, inequality, finance, production and consumption, science and technology, tourism, trade, urban planning, and work – systematically making the difference between goals, objectives, and instruments. Following this, we assess the precision, frequency, quality, and diversity of this agenda, reflecting on how the degrowth policy toolbox has been evolving until today.
La cartographie :
Et l'ensemble de propositions et mesures issues de cette analyse qui méritent toute notre attention (la mise en place de communs fait aussi partie des mesures présentées) :
3.3. Thematic synthesis
Whilst identifying policy themes, goals and objectives is a useful first step, it is crucial to make the degrowth agenda concrete. Therefore, this subsection describes each theme with illustrated examples in alphabetical order.
3.3.1. Culture & education
This theme can be split into six categories. (1) Transform education systems advocate for an emancipatory understanding of education, whereby increased spaces for critical pedagogy lead to pluralistic perspectives and curricula (e.g. eco-spirituality, indigenous knowledge, pluralist economics). (2) Cultures of sufficiency and self-limitation refers to the conscious choice of simplifying unsustainable lifestyles by minimising material possessions and biophysical footprints. The agenda also calls for (3) more relational goods in the form of friendship, local culture, love, and trust and for (4) restoring indigenous and local knowledge systems, by which we mean giving equal status to a diversity of worldviews. (5) Developing an ecological class consciousness means framing environmental violence as a form of class, gender, and racial domination, while shifting towards (6) ecocentric worldviews that promote a shift in our value systems, abandoning the idea that humans are a separate and superior entity from nonhumans and nature.
3.3.2. Energy & environment
Degrowth aspires to ecological sustainability in at least six different ways. The most important is (1) reducing environmental pressures, which could be done by the means of declining caps on resource use, emissions and pollution; ecological tax reforms (e.g. extraction and carbon tax); moratoria on resource extraction and big infrastructure such as energy plants, dams, incinerators, roads, highways, high-speed trains or airports; and banning certain chemicals. A crucial pressure to reduce is (2) energy consumption, which demands both eco-sufficiency and eco-efficiency changes like taxing industrial energy consumption and retrofitting buildings. Degrowth texts call for (3) eliminating fossil fuels and (4) stopping nuclear energy, starting with abolishing the subsidies they receive from governments. Instead, the goal is an (5) energy democracy made of convivial, community-owned and operated renewable energy systems. In order to (6) restore and preserve biodiversity, degrowth wants to create resource sanctuaries and give constitutional rights to nature. Further considerations to have a (7) stable demography are outlined with proposals like the empowerment of women to control their reproductive rights and the opposition of pro-natalist policies. These goals must all work towards (8) decolonizing environmental justice, acknowledging that ecological sustainability is often framed within a class-, gender-, and culturally-specific lens that silences many other visions of justice.
Finance can be split into two goals: one focusing on neutralising predatory, profit-seeking activities and the other promoting alternative financial institutions and practices that fit the broader narrative of cooperative, not-for-profit, post-growth economies. The first is (1) financial democracy which aims at a more horizontal governance of the banking and monetary system. This requires shifting decision-making power from corporate managers and shareholders to workers and local communities. Examples include separating traditional banks from investment banks (full reserve banking), nationalising monetary creation (sovereign money), taxing financial transactions, closing tax havens, and dismantling banking/financial institutions into smaller, local, and more democratic entities. The second promotes (2) ethical and non-speculative finance, activities like local and regional currencies, time banks, reciprocity networks and trading systems, self-managed credit unions, cooperative banks, public debt-free money, divestment, and corresponding ethical investments.
We have organised policy discussions on food around three overarching goals. (1) Sustainable farming involves reducing the environmental impacts associated with food, and more fundamentally (re)connecting to the land. This can take the form of promoting non-mechanised, subsistence organic farming, peasant agroecology, small farms and permaculture. Examples include turning sidewalks, backyards, unused land and roads into gardens and food forests, composting to rebuild soil fertility, giving up fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides, and promoting small local food shops and coops. (2) Food sovereignty posits that food is political and communities should be able to shape their own food systems. This includes preventing the private appropriation of seeds by protecting seed commons, redistributing land to small farmers, and developing networks and cooperatives to guarantee the equitable distribution of food. (3) Sustainable diets concern the kind of food we eat and the culture that surrounds it. Embracing ideas close to the Slow Food movement, degrowth advocates propose to reduce meat and dairy consumption; eat local, seasonal food; transition to plant-based diets; end food waste and provide consumer education in the form of farm visits, literature, and practical courses.
3.3.5. Governance & geopolitics
The degrowth agenda seeks to deepen democracy through six key goals. The most fundamental is the emergence of (1) radical ecological democracy where everyone has the right and opportunity to participate in decision-making, and where these decisions are grounded in ecological reality. For example, through deliberative forums where citizens gather to discuss acceptable levels of inequality or maximum thresholds of need satisfaction, self-managed workplaces, participatory budgeting (e.g. local communities like Brazil's Porto Alegre who collectively decide how to allocate their yearly budget), local direct democracy (i.e. citizens are directly responsible for making policy decisions), and voluntary committees to organise activities. Such methods need to be coupled with the (2) defence and reclaiming of the commons via the local, democratic ownership of essential infrastructure such as banking, energy, education, healthcare, local government, telecommunications, transport, waste, and water. Other proposals stress the need to simultaneously (3) dismantle hierarchies, (4) regulate lobbying, and (5) reform international organisations that undermine democracy. Examples include cap/banning political donations, banning fossil fuel lobbyists from climate negotiations, closing the revolving door between politics and business, balancing the power of Finance ministries, and democratising international organisations like the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Finally, (6) end the military-industrial complex focuses on significant reductions of military activities, which are often framed as a hindrance to global justice.
This theme is short and simple: (1) abandon GDP as a measure of social progress and replace it with a dashboard of indicators of social ecological health. If GDP is dominant in governance today, degrowth seeks to balance the importance given to economic indicators (e.g. GDP, profits, income, purchasing power) in comparison to social (e.g., happiness, health, inequality, political participation, leisure time) and ecological indicators (e.g. ecological and material footprint, biodiversity loss, global warming, deforestation, pollution). Examples of alternative indicators include the Genuine Progress Indicator (5 indicators), Gross National Happiness from Bhutan (33 indicators) or the Wellbeing Budgets adopted by Iceland (39 indicators), New Zealand (65 indicators) or Scotland (81 indicators).
Degrowth seeks to (1) reduce inequality by focusing on redistribution within and between countries. To eradicate extreme wealth, the agenda discusses maximum wages, highly progressive income taxes, reparations for ecological debt, as well as taxes on inheritance, wealth, and luxury consumption. To (2) eradicate poverty degrowth seeks to guarantee the universal provisioning of fundamental human needs, calling for various forms of basic incomes, minimum living wages, and free access to a selection of public services like healthcare, housing, electricity, education, public transport and water. Addressing inequality also requires (3) transformative justice, often in the form of new principles of non-discrimination and equality in human rights law (e.g. redefine the obligations of international assistance and cooperation), alternatives to incarceration (e.g. rehabilitation programs following the principle of restorative justice), and guaranteed access to free legal services.
3.3.8. Production & consumption
Degrowth wants to change production and consumption in six main ways. It starts with (1) reducing overproduction, that is goods and services that are resource-intensive while contributing little to collective well-being (often cited examples include pesticides, advertising, arms, beef, flying, and SUVs). To achieve this, the agenda calls for a transition to (2) democratic, not-for-profit business models such as cooperatives, self-production, smaller businesses, and commons-based peer production that emphasise the importance of (3) relocalising activities in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions while fostering local resilience. Other proposals focus on consumption: (4) limit advertisement, for example by banning ads in public spaces and for products with high environmental impacts; and promote (5) lifestyles of sufficiency by discouraging luxury consumption (for example through boycotts, flying quotas, progressive taxes on consumption, taxes on secondary houses, excise tax on sports cars, yacht, and private jets) and encouraging voluntary simplicity (bike infrastructures, co-housing, shared utilities, repair cafés, decommodified hobbies). The last segment of this theme aims to (6) reduce waste by criminalising planned obsolescence, mandating environmental impact assessments, introducing durability labels, and guaranteeing the right to repair.
3.3.9. Science & technology
In regards to science and technology, the degrowth agenda can be divided into two main strategies. Against industrial, high-tech production, degrowth defends (1) technological sovereignty. This involves placing a moratoria on potentially dangerous geo-engineering practises and biogenetics; regular citizen audits to decide whether or not to introduce a new technology; restructuring social media from private to a common or public good; repurposing military facilities to produce sustainable and socially useful products; and to dismantle patent monopolies, for example concerning seeds. The second goal, (2) convivial tools, aims to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn how to use and repair the tools they use. For example, repairing bikes and clothes in cooperative spaces, joining a local currency association, or learning how to farm in a community garden.
Discussions on tourism centre around two goals. The first is to (1) limit tourism. This targets fossil fuel-based travel, especially long-distance, which should be regulated (e.g. moratoria on tourism developments, quotas to visit sensitive areas like World Heritage Sites; restrictions on mega-cruise ships) and taxed to include its full environmental cost. It also involves (2) reconceptualising tourism based on the principles of slow and local tourism. Fundamentally, this means prioritising the ‘right to live’ over the ‘right to travel.’ Two examples include redefining the legal definition of tourism and revising or scrapping both the Office for International Migration and the World Tourism Organisation, thus favouring residents' rights and the environment over wealthy tourists' short-term wants. Additionally, it discusses low-impact modes of transport (e.g. trains, bus, cycling, walking), the promotion of local ownership, and the respect of the ecological carrying capacity of each region.
Trade is the least elaborated theme by proposals - it goes in two broad directions. First, (1) limit long-distance trade, which necessitates reducing unnecessary intra-industry trade between nations of similar affluence, applying export quotas, and limiting the use of international aviation and shipping. The second direction calls to (2) reconceptualise trade by renegotiating agreements on trade and intellectual property rights, for example the TRIPS Agreement at the World Trade Organisation.
3.3.12. Urban planning
Urban planning is split into four goals. (1) Land for all aspires to guarantee decent, affordable homes for everyone by protecting the housing sector from commodification and speculation. Examples of policy instruments here include progressive property taxes (floor space and number of), rent caps and controls, expropriation or occupation of vacant buildings and extending social housing. (2) Housing sufficiency promotes alternative housing arrangements such as ecovillages, eco-cohousing, housing cooperatives, or squatting. It also promotes common facilities (e.g. cars, gardens, kitchens) and retrofitting programs to significantly lower the ecological footprint of dwellings. (3) Just mobility focuses on reducing fossil fuel-based transport in a way that is socially fair, which involves reducing high-speed transport (e.g. cars, planes, high-speed trains, cruises) and large infrastructure (e.g. roads, motorways, airports, ports) through a range of disincentives such as lower speed limits, car free zones, and moratorias. Simultaneously, it encourages investment and use of active modes of transport such as walking and cycling, as well as public transport. Finally, (4) socially useful and ecologically sensitive planning aims at making cities smaller and greener, in a similar spirit to Transition Towns. Proposals range from capping the number and size of dwellings, controlling the development of holiday homes, limiting urban sprawl and preventing gentrification to promoting urban consolidation, banning construction of single detached houses, and prohibiting developments on agricultural land.
Policy discussions on work are central to degrowth and organised around four goals. The most frequently discussed one is (1) reconceptualising work, moving in the direction of deprioritising wage labour in society. The concrete application of this goal is work-time reductions, which need to be complemented with policies that reallocate productivity gains into working less, ensuring rights to part-time, and a gender-sensitive redistribution of paid work. The introduction of job guarantees with living wages is proposed to (2) reduce unemployment while creating more secure and fulfilling jobs. The third goal - (3) redistribute (re)productive activities - calls for a valuation of care and volunteer work, as well as a fairer sharing of chores between genders, classes, and ethnicities. The agenda also (4) promotes social ecological jobs through investing in publicly funded and community-run (re)training programs for workers, for example from jobs in the fossil fuel industry and towards socially useful and ecologically sensitive activities such as ecosystem restoration or the building of community-owned renewables.