A RADICAL vision for a greener economy and fairer society was set out by a Stroud District councillor during a speech at the Green Party conference in Bristol earlier this month.

Molly Scott Cato, who leads the Green group on SDC and is the economic spokesperson for the Party nationally, gave a talk outlining an alternative approach for dealing with the financial storm presently engulfing the country.

Offering a unique diagnosis of the ailing economy, the Green economist and Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Roehampton, challenged the dominant economic arguments being advanced by both Labour and the coalition government.

The real question that needed to be asked, she said, was not how do we get the economy growing once more, but is economic growth even desirable.

While the government maintains that austerity is needed before the economy can really start to grow again, and Labour call for more investment to stimulate growth, Scott Cato adopts a very different stance.

She claimed that we have been living beyond our means ecologically rather than financially, and that the environmental crisis is proof of this.

Rather than prioritsing growth, she sought to portray it as environmentally unsustainable, pointing out that more carbon dioxide is produced the more a country's economy expands.

Instead therefore of striving for greater growth, which inevitably accelerates the depletion of increasingly scarce and finite natural resources, she said a transition to a green economy, which put environmental and societal wellbeing ahead of profit, was urgently needed.

As well as calling for a new and environmentally sustainable economic model, she also spoke about the need to rebalance the economy and reduce social inequalities.

She said the economy had become too dependent on the financial sector and that a new system was needed which created a fairer distribution of wealth.

Speaking afterwards, she said: "We need to find a way to live in a world of economic security rather than growth.

"Once the pie stops increasing in size the questions about how the pie is shared out become more important.

"At present the wealthier are still taking larger slices, while the poor and vulnerable are losing out.

"An economy without growth could be a happier, healthier economy if we focused on quality rather than quantity and focused on policies that would lead to greater equality."