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Idealog—in the ideas business

Why it’s green growth or nothing

High energy prices are here to stay and frugality with our resources is our only hope for a sustainable future, writes Chris Huhne in the Guardian.

Much of our economic debate implies we must choose between going green or going for growth. That view may be the opposite of the truth. There is now hard evidence that the real choice is between green growth or no growth at all.

For the first time in the postwar period, energy and other commodity prices are unusually high for this point of the global recovery. Normally the cost of basic materials falls in real terms for at least two years after a recovery begins. In the past, this boosted real incomes, supported spending and fuelled recovery.

No more. Today there is a different phenomenon in the developed world: the "squeezed middle". Far from boosting incomes and spending, high energy and material prices have undermined an already fragile recovery buffeted by financial crisis and the legacy of debt. The new pattern of high prices and squeezed incomes has enormous consequences for our future.

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