In this thoughtful paper, UBC Professor Emeritus William Rees, the originator of “ecological footprint analysis”, explores the interconnections between the ecological and social crises we face, and then offers up an inventory of policy solutions to address them. While radical by today's context, his proposals seek to break through the layers of denial that mark dominant economic thinking.
His extended essay highlights the most pressing global challenges we face –– the climate emergency, the reality of ecological “overshoot” that already exceeds the long-term carrying capacity of the earth and outrageous and unsustainable levels of inequality. But the paper also offers a hopeful way forward, a whole new approach to sustainable planning at every level. The solutions proposed relate to trade policy, taxation policy, regulatory policy, a re-localization of economic planning, and many other areas, but also speak to the urgent need to shift popular culture away from rampant consumerism and a blind faith in material growth. Rees contends that tackling the ecological crisis will require a much more equitable sharing of the world’s resources – a “new social contract” both locally and globally.