Past Event

New Utopias: Is “Zero-Growth” the Wave of the Future

February 15, 2022
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM
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VIRTUAL EVENT | 1:00 p.m. (New York) | 7:00 p.m. (Paris)

In the face of the global climate crisis and the depletion of natural resources, most experts and policy makers agree that a reduction of fossil fuel energy consumption is essential. The majority of countries have now set or are considering a target of reducing emissions to net zero by mid-century. Reaching these targets will demand a significant investment in renewable energy. But some are arguing that such action is not enough. The goal, they claim, should not only be net zero emissions; it should be zero-growth. In other words, global consumption and production should be reduced and the paradigm of growth itself should be called into question. But can we move toward such a goal, and if not, what should we aim for? How can energy transition be best managed in order to meet environmental as well as socio-economic goals? What can we learn from the history of efforts to achieve energy transition? Can a “Green New Deal” constitute an effective template to achieve the right balance between safeguarding a livable climate, achieving greater socio-economic equality, and guaranteeing sustainable growth? What should be done to reach a consensus among policy makers, corporate actors, and public opinion to attain those goals?

New Utopias is a series of panel discussions on the world to come presented by The European Institute, Columbia Global Center | Paris, and the Alliance Program. This event is co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française.


Alyssa Battistoni is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia. Her research interests include environmental and climate politics, feminism, Marxist thought, political economy, and the history of political thought. She is the co-author, with Kate Aronoff, Daniel Aldana Cohen, and Thea Riofrancos, of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso 2019).
Jean-Baptiste Fressoz is a historian at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). His research focuses on environmental history, the history of climate research, and the Anthropocene. He is the author or co-author of L’Apocalypse Joyeuse: Une histoire du risque technologique (Le Seuil, 2012), Introduction à l'histoire environnementale (La Découverte, 2014); The Shock of the Anthropocene (Verso, 2017); and Les Révoltes du Ciel: une histoire du changement climatique XVe-XXe siècles (Le Seuil, 2020).
Adam Tooze is Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History and Director of the European Institute at Columbia University. His research interests include modern German history, the history of economics and economic history, political, intellectual history. His most recent books are The Deluge: The Great War, America, and the Remaking of the Global Order 1916-1931 (2014), Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018), and Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World Economy (Viking 2021).