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What would a sustainable ‘Steady State Economy’ be like?

 The main features of a SSE are :

  • A sustainable population size for the carrying capacity of its region;

  • A distribution of wealth which is fair and equitable on an intergenerational basis; 

  • Low resource use. (see Magnus-Johnston 2018 in CASSE NSW book ‘Positive Steps’) 

To give a fuller description :

A Steady State Economy has a constant (or mildly fluctuating) population and constant (or mildly fluctuating) per capita consumption. Energy and material flows are reduced and kept within ecological limits and there are constant stocks of natural and human-built capital. 


This is done by:

  1. Maintaining the health of eco-systems and the life-support systems they provide.

  2. Extracting renewable resources like fish and timber at a rate no faster than they can be regenerated.

  3. Consuming non-renewable resources like minerals at a rate no faster than they can be replaced by the discovery of renewable substitutes. 

  4. Depositing wastes into the environment at a rate no faster than they can be safely assimilated (this includes that a Steady State Economy runs on renewable energy).

Rather than policy that aims for endless growth, the aims of the Steady State Economy are:

  • Sustainable size, thereby addressing population growth & environmental impacts;

  • A fair distribution of wealth, where there are limits to inequality. 

Where policies tools aid the redistribution of wealth and subsidise sustainable industries;

  • Efficient use of resources, which includes using circular processes instead of linear (long-lasting design, repair, reuse, re-manufacturing and recycling). Addressing & remediating massive waste streams.

  • A high quality of life.

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