Anglia Ruskin research to shape political debate

Published: 20 April 2016 at 13:17

Smoke billowing out of smokestacks

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth is launched in Westminster

Research being carried out by Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute is to play a key role in shaping the work of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group launched last night at the House of Commons.

Chaired by Caroline Lucas MP and co-chaired by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth, will provide a “platform for cross-party dialogue on economic growth in a time of environmental and social transition”.

Taking as its basis the landmark report on Limits to Growth produced in 1972 by the Club of Rome, the aim of the group is to: 
- Create the space for cross-party dialogue on specific economic risks related to environmental and social limits.
- Assess the evidence for such limits, identify the risks and build support for appropriate responses.
- Contribute to the international debate on redefining prosperity and measures of growth.    

Research carried out by the Global Sustainability Institute’s Global Resource Observatory, which used new data to update the model at the centre of the original Club of Rome 1972 study, was published last year in the journal Sustainability.

The updated World3 model produces a less pessimistic outlook, thanks to a greater reliance on the service sector than originally envisaged, a reduction in the amount of heavy industry, and greater agricultural innovation allowing more food to be grown than anticipated. However, the model still predicts that resource constraints will lead to population collapse at some point this century.

This study, and other research conducted by Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute for The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the International Social Security Association and Lloyd’s of London, forms part of the evidence being used by the politicians.

Dr Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute, attended last night’s Westminster launch.  He said: 


“Ever since the first Limits to Growth report in 1972 it has been clear that a ‘business as usual’ approach will inevitably lead to resource shortages and pollution having a disastrous effect on economic growth and population levels.

“Although our work has shown that the original Limits to Growth predictions were slightly too pessimistic, growth cannot continue indefinitely if it is based on material consumption and not grounded in our understanding that the planet has limited land availability and resources.

“Having politicians of all sides finally coming together to discuss these issues and think about how we respond to the challenges is the first step towards ensuring it plays a key part of future political planning.”