IATE Term of the Week: Degrowth



Do you feel concerned about environmental issues and want to limit your carbon footprint?

Degrowth, a political and social project that, based on ecological economics and anti-consumerist ideas, questions economic growth as such. The term is relatively recent, it was born following the phenomenon of global warming and over the past ten years, it has become increasingly present in the discourses of ecological transition.

IATE degrowth snap

Proponents of degrowth consider that over-consumption is at the root of environmental problems and social inequalities. Indeed, some studies (particularly those of Thomas Piketti) have shown that growth no longer succeeds in reducing inequalities and according to Tim Jackson it even contributes to increasing inequalities because the benefits of growth are captured by the richest population.

Degrowth aims at improving the well-being and happiness of people by inviting them to consume less but better, to share the work and focus on human solidarity and cooperation, to devote more time to arts, family, nature, culture and community.

The EU is committed to making member states and individuals more eco-responsible. The new legislation sets ambitious targets for the use of renewables in transport, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality across the EU. In all, 20% of the EU budget is spent on climate actions and this percentage is expected to rise (25%).

The English term degrowth gives the impression of a step backwards in our lifestyle. According to the supporters of degrowth, this is not a step backwards, but rather a major step forward for the environment and humanity: seek to achieve sufficiency rather than overabundance which leads to waste, to a pointless accumulation of goods and to the destruction of ecosystems.

Nowadays many university courses speak about degrowth and in Spain, the university of Barcelona started in October 2018 a Master degree in political ecology, degrowth and environmental justice.

We only want to move from the enjoyment of having to the enjoyment of being”
Bernard Guillitte, municipal councillor in Namur.


Written by Cécile Houzelles –  Study Visitor in Communication at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and student in the Master program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She speaks French, English, Portuguese and she is learning German.