Q: Automobile manufacturers are increasingly increasing the supply of 'green' cars. Is not the remedy worse than the disease?
Jacques Grinevald: Its logic is focused on market shares and growth. Large companies see opportunities to open new markets in emerging countries. They think that good times are coming, that we are at the beginning of the automobile age.
They ensure that the X or Y model is much cleaner, and in this way they do everything necessary to prevent the consumer from establishing a relationship with climate change.
I have the feeling that the automobile industry ignores the great problems that lie ahead: the shortage of crude oil - the quantities are insufficient to satisfy the world's greed - and especially climate change, which is accelerating and no one denies it anymore .
Biofuels are the order of the day. But it is illusory and irresponsible to pretend that everyone will have recovered in twenty or thirty years. You have to feed the world's population before feeding the cars and the luxurious necessities of a minority (the rich countries). It is a choice that is born from ethics, from conscience.
Q: Faced with this logic, you support and have been one of the architects of the idea of degrowth. What is meant by degrowth?
J.G .: The decrease is physical. It is not about a degrowth society, but about decreasing the flows of matter and energy.
Regarding the automobile, we need cars that are lighter, consume less gasoline, have less acceleration and go less fast (less wear and tear on the vehicles, fewer accidents). The problem is that this does not matter from the logic of growth.
Q: Is this idea of degrowth realistic and applicable?
J.G .: Personally, I try to be consistent with my ideas. I have to admit that when I was twenty, I loved cars. I am from the Mini Cooper generation. Sometimes I dream of driving the current model of the Mini Cooper, but I refrain.
And I receive not a few invitations. However, I refuse, for example, to travel to Buenos Aires to give a one-hour lecture, because I consider it absurd.
Some young people and also some old people are aware that our society is not developed, but excessively developed. In other words, we have exceeded the capacities that the biosphere can support.
This idea of degrowth implies a lower limit - misery or extreme poverty - but also an upper limit - the idea that there are people who live beyond their means, in the ecological sense of the term.
It takes an awareness, a little humility. Our Western society, which has dominated the planet for several centuries, has become terribly arrogant, anthropocentric. It is therefore a question of conscience. And the meaning we give to our existence.
I'm a teacher. For me, you have to focus essentially on education rather than obligations. We must avoid falling into a new Bolshevism.
Q: In Switzerland are the defenders of degrowth few?
J.G .: First of all, the word degrowth is not a concept. It is a rhetorical thing that allows us to say: "Look, what if we got out of the logic of growth?"
It is a totally minority and marginal movement. But, despite everything, it is one of the cultural signs that announce what is going to happen in ten or twenty years.
In this movement there are ayatollahs and other people who do not give themselves too much importance. The sense of humor is an essential factor. 'Serious people have few ideas. People with ideas are never serious, '' said Paul Valéry. I dare to say that this logic also applies to degrowth.
Q: What difference do you make between degrowth and a concept as omnipresent today as sustainable development?
J.G .: Many multinationals have interpreted sustainable development as sustainable, "ecologically good" growth. The problem is that economic growth involves a physical dimension.
In other words: sustainable development does not challenge this idea that the wealth of nations is fundamentally material wealth, in the sense that industrial society understands it.
It's easy to be green