Environment and the Economy – Helping Scotland to Flourish

Environment and the Economy – Helping Scotland to Flourish
Scottish Environment Link

Executive Summary


This paper is a plea for a national consensus on a new goal of government. 


Government faces an array of challenges, in environmental, social, and economic spheres.  Getting the relationship between these right is crucially important in a time of crisis and upheaval. 


LINK argues that the current pre-occupation with economic growth is unduly distorting priorities; a shift of emphasis is required in the government’s ‘core purpose’.   The natural environment is the envelope in which we all live, relying on its many resources; all social and economic progress depends on the healthy functioning of this global commons.


Scotland shares a responsibility of environmental stewardship with other countries in the world. Failure of this stewardship means that the whole world now faces a catastrophe of mounting ecological debt, for which there is no bailout available.   


Scotland’s consumption patterns (double our fair share) are unsustainable and morally indefensible. Government acknowledges that this cannot continue; and yet it continues.  


As we wrestle with a crisis of financial debt, the pre-occupation with economic growth is allowed to take precedence over our duty to the rest of the world and future generations.  In what may seem an honourable quest for prosperity to fulfil our aspirations and meet our obligations, we are making matters worse.  


Scotland is not alone in this; it is a real dilemma for governments everywhere  – how to reconcile development aims with environmental obligations. But Scotland’s government aspires to lead the world, and in some respects is doing so.  


Taking the government at its word, LINK challenges it – and of course aspiring future governments – to do better, to match rhetoric with more effective action, starting with a re-definition of the core purpose of government to focus on sustainable wellbeing. 


This is LINK’s contribution to an urgent and important debate about getting priorities right, and getting the economy back in perspective.


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