Distributed degrowth technology: Challenges for blockchain beyond the green economy

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This commentary considers the challenges and trade-offs in using blockchain as the facilitating digital infrastructure for degrowth projects. A blockchain is simply a distributed database. The technology is being used for a wide range of applications relevant to economic exchange and environmental sustainability. Many degrowth scholars wholly reject technical fixes for politically induced environmental crises, seeing blockchain projects as wasteful and counter to convivial social relations. Others highlight the technology’s potential for facilitating redistributive and regenerative economies, but without much detail. This paper argues that if blockchain is ever to prove useful for the degrowth movement it would need to overcome challenges in three important areas: 1) building democratic and (re)distributive economies, 2) regenerating the environment without commodifying it, and 3) facilitating international alliances without imposing a particular set of values. What is certain is that technology on its own will not transcend the political struggles tackled by degrowth activists. However, under certain conditions, blockchain might make those struggles more effective.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107020
Number of pages7
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date13 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


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