Human Greed Versus Human Needs: Decarbonization of the Global Economy

F. Asif*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Arguably, much of the benefits to humanity have come from rapid industrialization that has underpinned 20th century economic growth. At the same time, the form that this has evolved into, namely neoliberalism and corporate capitalism, has obfuscated the environmental (and social) costs that such progress has been built upon. The consequence of not paying heed to or incorporating environmental externalities, chiefly climate change, has been that organizations and governments are facing the reality of the economic, social, and political costs of a business as usual future. In this context, a call for decarbonization of the global economy has come to the fore. In its special report on impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, the IPCC states that we need to decarbonize the global economy immediately to ensure that global CO2 emissions decline to 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. However, despite the urgency, progress has been piecemeal and inadequate. This chapter argues that the barriers to decarbonizing the global economy are not technological or economic in nature but instead, are social and political. To this end, the concept of basic human needs is used as a framing to support this notion, a concept that recognizes that all humans have certain basic needs that must be met. To support this, there must be a concerted and comprehensive effort to support the transition to decarbonization at various levels of policy across governments and companies. In parallel, civil society groups and individuals must use coalition-building initiatives to overcome traditional silos. From this perspective, it becomes clear that addressing climate change and achieving decarbonization requires a new social agenda, one where both people and the planet are put before profits, and one that demands a reshaping of values, norms, and expectations—of our economy, to your environment, and to each other.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond Free Market
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Inclusion and Globalization
EditorsF. Baqir, S. Yaya
ISBN (Electronic)9781003093022
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2021


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