The Ecological Citizen Vol 3 Suppl B 2020: 23–33
Economic growth is driving ecological degradation on a scale that poses an existential threat to civilization. Gross domestic product now provides a better measure of costs than of benefits. We must transition to clean energy and simultaneously restore degraded global ecosystems. Neither of these activities are amenable to market allocation: ecological restoration provides collective benefits and requires collective decision making, while the value of green technologies is maximized when the required knowledge has a price of zero, in which case markets will not provide it. We thus need an economic transition towards institutions based on cooperation and reciprocity. One option that can help instigate the necessary transition is a common asset trust, in which R&D into green technologies is funded collectively then freely available to all. This low-cost initial step can help to spur the cooperation required to address larger challenges.