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Slow Down with Kohei Saito

"Even with new green technologies, if we keep trying to produce more for the sake of economic growth, we […] cannot make a fast transition to decarbonize the economy. Therefore, I argue that it is necessary to reduce what is unnecessary."

In Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto, Kohei Saito explores the relationship between capitalism and the climate crisis. He argues, controversially, that to have any chance of achieving true sustainability, we must move to a system which deemphasizes growth, adopts different metrics of progress, expands the commons, and places value on goods and services which are not currently considered as part of the economy, like caregiving and nature.

Saito is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Tokyo and a recipient of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science prize, which is awarded to the top scholar in Japan under the age of 45. His book, published previously in Japan, became an unexpected bestseller, shipping more than half a million copies to date.

Together with Martin Reeves, Chairman of BCG Henderson Institute, Saito discusses the arguments for fundamental economic system change, explores the feasibility of less radical alternatives, and assesses implications for business leaders. The book’s propositions will likely seem very radical to many of our business listeners—but as Saito notes, sometimes utopian ideas can be a stimulus for generating new thinking for complex intractable topics like climate change.

Key topics discussed: 

[01:50] Defining the problem and the need for system-level change
[06:21] The relation between capitalism and technological progress
[08:41] Exploring alternative, less radical solutions
[13:32] The need for a new measurement of economic and social progress
[17:08] The feasibility of a transition to a new system
[21:41] Implications for business leaders
[25:35] Reasons to remain hopeful

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