Disruption at the Brussels Economic Forum
On Thursday May 6th 2023, Growth Kills disrupted the Brussels Economic Forum (BEF), the European Commission’s flagship annual economic event. We took to the stage holding a banner reading “GROWTH KILLS”, interrupting the ongoing discussion with the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis:
« The Club of Rome, the Secretary-General of the UN, the president of the Republic of Ireland all criticise the obsession of infinite growth while the planetary boundaries are crossed, driving the whole world to the verge of irreversible damage. We need to redefine our economic model. »
Later on, other Growth Kills activists in the audience took over to raise their voices and continue the disruption by activating personal alarms all over the conference room:
« It is time to stop using GDP as an indicator for economic welfare because it fails to calculate the environmental destruction and social injustices that are created by the current economic model. We need to stay within our planetary boundaries and reach the social foundations of every human being on this planet. »
« The blind pursuit of endless economic growth is the main obstacle standing between us and the necessary political measures, even though it is so evident that we cannot infinitely increase production within the limits of a finite planet. »
This action preceded the Beyond Growth conference by the EU parliament on 15-17 May, conveying a similar message. While finishing the disruption, we received a massive ovation from the audience.
Disruption at the European Union Sustainable Energy Week to condemn the green growth approach of the European Commission
On June 20th 2023, GrowthKills collective interrupted the opening panel at the European Union Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW23) at the European Commission’s Charlemagne building to point out Europe’s slow transition and greenwashing of the energy sector.
« The green growth that the EU is currently promoting is not a feasible plan for the future. Solar and wind power are growing quickly, but have thus far not reduced use of fossil fuels, just added more energy to the system. Digitalization serves the economy of growth but requires energy that we don’t have. »
« The EU is not doing enough but mostly, not fast enough. »
This is the biggest annual event dedicated to the renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. 2023 theme was “accelerating the clean energy transition towards lower bills and greater skills”. Even though many sustainable solutions were presented in the different panels at the conference, the general narrative is still in the green growth framework the the EU promotes in its Green Deal. The critical point of this narrative is that it assumes decoupling of growth and damages caused by growth as possible. However, this assumption has been refuted in multiple studies. In the European Environmental Bureau’s “Decoupling Debunked” report, it is shown that for the green growth to be a feasible option, the intensity of carbon use should fall 100 times faster than what is happening now. The solutions of the EU green transition are thus not happening fast enough to be realistic.
Digitalisation is often framed as a solution to the climate issues we are facing. However, they contribute to an increase in energy consumption. Switching towards green energy sources has to happen faster, but also has to be accompanied by a more reasonable use of our resources and a decrease of fossil fuel energy use. This narrative of unlimited growth and green technologies saving us can’t happen within the time available for a sustainable transition.
The event disruption, troubling for a couple of minutes the usually quiet Commission crowd, was met with applause. The message is clear. As long as the EU relies on technologies to compensate for its enormous energy demand, we will be far from reaching our climate targets. As long as growth remains part of green transition solutions, we will not be able to prevent climate catastrophes from happening. Either we start implementing degrowth now in a controlled way, or we shall be forced to do so. The difference between the two scenarios is millions of human lives.
At the end of the intervention and before EUSEW’s award ceremony, one activist awarded a flower to EU’s policy and Ursula von Leyen’s greenwashing.