New paper warns of global “ecological overshoot” and rising inequality

UBC professor publication highlights policy alternatives to achieve true sustainability in CCPA publication
June 17, 2014

(Vancouver) In a new paper entitled Avoiding Collapse: An agenda for sustainable degrowth and relocalizing the economy, UBC Professor Emeritus William E. Rees, the originator of “ecological footprint analysis”, explores the interconnections between the ecological and social crises we face, and then offers up an inventory of policy solutions to address them.

His extended essay highlights the most pressing global challenges we face – the climate emergency, the reality of ecological “overshoot” that already exceeds the long-term carrying capacity of the earth, and outrageous and unsustainable levels of inequality. But the paper also offers a hopeful way forward, a whole new approach to sustainable planning at every level. The solutions proposed relate to trade policy, taxation policy, regulatory policy, a re-localization of economic planning, and many other areas, but also speak to the urgent need to shift popular culture away from rampant consumerism and a blind faith in material growth. Rees contends that tackling the ecological crisis will require a much more equitable sharing of the world’s resources – a “new social contract” both locally and globally.


For more information or to arrange interviews with William Rees, contact Terra Poirier at terra [at] policyalternatives [dot] ca or 604-801-5121 x229.

William E. Rees is an ecological economist Professor Emeritus and former director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning. The originator of eco-footprint analysis, Dr. Rees was a founding director and past-president of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics, and is a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute.