Fairytales of Growth
"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” Greta Thunberg, United Nations Climate Action Summit, 2019
The climate crisis has seen a spectacular rise to the world agenda in 2019, aided in great part by social movements spearheaded by young people. Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement in particular has been a catalyst in raising awareness about the dangers of inaction while at the same time galvanising hundreds of thousands of youth to take to the streets the world over. In November 2019 world politicians, scientists and policy-makers met at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) in Madrid, to try and bash out a plan to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. Their repeated failure to do so has only caused more anguish and resentment from those on the sidelines who continue to watch their futures being negotiated with as if in a game of dice. When in September 2019 Greta Thunberg passionately called out politicians’ obsession with “eternal economic growth” she effectively challenged the entire socio-economic system modern society is based upon and opened the public imaginary to other ways of seeing, prioritising and valuing what societies ought to be striving for. The past year has seen waves of protests relating to inequality, populist politics, democracy, immigration and a host of other issues. Significantly, many synergies have been built between these seemingly disparate movements. People are starting to see the connections between climate change, its causes and effects, and how these effects are unequally distributed. “We are all in the same boat, but some of us are more responsible than others, and some are more affected than others” is a standard saying in climate activist circles. Fairytales of Growth, a film I have been making for the past 18 months, explores how economic growth is responsible for the climate crisis and how this crisis is about more than just rising temperatures but also inequality and historical injustices perpetrated by nations from the Global North onto the Global South. Ending our obsession with economic growth is highlighted as a first step towards change, while putting wellbeing, care, gender equality and the environment at the centre of socio-economic policy.
A major obstacle to achieving this are the powerful interests of the ultra-rich and those who have the most to lose from such a change. Social movements, protest and proposals for a fairer and more just world are the only things with the capacity and power to bring such radical changes about.