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April 24, 2024

Degrowth as a Response to the Climate Crisis

Event Series: Ways Forward in a Divided World

Showing the Degrowth as a Response to Climate Crisis Video

The expansion of industrial and consumer societies is driving the global climate crisis. Decades of growth have brought the planet to a precipice. Unless global humanity reduces carbon emissions drastically in the years and decades ahead, we may damage our ecosphere beyond repair. While the international community is focused on the transition to renewable energy, Kohei Saito insists a more radical approach is necessary—an intentional slowdown of economic growth.

What is the degrowth agenda, and what are its origins and core tenets? Would slowing growth necessitate a far-reaching transformation of the global capitalist system? How might such a transformation look in practice—and what are the viable alternatives? Kohei Saito and David Wallace-Wells explored these questions in a conversation moderated by Meehan Crist.

This event was part of the Georgetown Global Dialogues, which featured leading intellectuals from the Global South in forward-looking conversations with U.S.-based thinkers across a range of topics. It was co-sponsored by the Earth Commons Institute and the Office of Sustainability at Georgetown University.


Headshot of Kohei Saito.

Kohei Saito

Kohei Saito is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Tokyo and a leading contemporary Marxist thinker. His most recent book, Capital in the Anthropocene (2020), has sold more than half a million copies in Japan and was published in English as Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto in January 2024. Saito’s previous book, Karl Marx's Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy (2017), which creatively explored the ecological dimension of Marx’s thought and its contemporary relevance, won the Deutscher Memorial Prize.

Headshot of David Wallace-Wells.

David Wallace-Wells

David Wallace-Wells is a columnist and staff writer at The New York Times, where he writes a weekly newsletter on climate change, technology, and the future of the planet. He is the author of the #1 New York Times-bestseller, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (2019), a travelogue of the near future and meditation on how it will look to those living through it. Wallace-Wells was previously the deputy editor at New York magazine, deputy editor of The Paris Review, and a national fellow at the New America Foundation.

Headshot of Meehan Crist.

Meehan Crist

Meehan Crist is writer in residence in biological sciences at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the London Review of Books, the Atlantic, the Nation, Scientific American, and Science, and was selected for Best American Science and Nature Writing 2021. Recent awards and honors include a Silvers Grant for Work in Progress and a Sloan Foundation Book Grant. She is co-editor of What Future 2018 (Unnamed Press, 2018) and a founding member of NeuWrite. Crist’s nonfiction book about the climate crisis, Is It OK to Have a Child?, is forthcoming from Random House.