Creating global prosperity without economic growth

Glossary Of Terms

Carbon Footprint

The amount of carbon emitted by a person, organization, business, or nation. Originally measured in hectares, it referred to the amount of land required to absorb the carbon emitted, hence a ‘footprint’. It is more commonly measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), but it can also be measured in tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Climate Change

The destabilizing of the climate through the release of greenhouse gases. Human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, is changing the composition of the atmosphere. This traps heat within the atmosphere, creating a global warming effect. The term ‘climate change’ is more useful than ‘global warming’, because it reflects the broader effects of change, including floods, drought, sea level rise, etc.

Contraction and Convergence

A global solution to climate change that recognises that all people have an equal right to emit carbon and distributes a carbon quota to each country on a per capita basis. Under such a principle, which was adopted by the IPCC in 2000, industrializing countries would be allowed to grow their emissions, while others would reduce theirs.

Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint is a measure in hectares of how much of the Earth’s capacity humanity requires to produce all the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates using current technology and resource management practices.


The root of the word is Greek, and means ‘the art of household management’. At its most basic it is the way that we organise the distribution of goods, resources and funds.

Economic Growth

The expansion of economic activity within a given country, or the world as a whole, usually measured by Gross Domestic Product. Since economic growth is closely tied to carbon emissions and resource use, it is a key driver of climate change and resource depletion.

For Profit Entity

An entity in which financial surpluses may be distributed to shareholders. The primary objective of such an entity is almost always to create the greatest financial return possible (ie. perpetual growth).

Gross Domestic Product

Gross Domestic Product is the most common way of measuring the activity in an economy, and adds together investment with the value of all goods and services exchanged. It is considered a proxy measurement of standard of living by many politicians.

Not for Profit Entity

An entity without shareholders and unable to distribute any (part) of a financial surplus to its members. The primary objective of such an entity is almost always to create (a) social benefit(s) (i.e., may or may not be focussed on growing).


Overshoot is the situation when human demand on the Earth’s capacity exceeds the Earth’s supply, or regenerative capacity.

Peak Oil

The threshold at which remaining oil reserves become too difficult or too expensive to extract.

Steady State Economy

A way of organizing the distribution of goods, resources, and funds that does not need to grow. It is stable, rather than growing in its use of materials or accumulation of debt. A Steady State Economy would still change and evolve, but without an increase in material throughput.


A general term for a life well lived, incorporating life expectancy, literacy and life satisfaction. Many reformers believe wellbeing represents a better measure of progress than economic growth.