ECOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION: pathways to frugal and responsible innovation

Franck Aggeri
Professor at MINES Paris-PSL

Innovate, constantly and at an ever-growing pace. This is the order given to individuals, businesses, and states alike. 

When it comes to ecological transition, this blind faith in innovation’s benefits has a name: “green” technological innovations. These innovations are presented as pre-conditions for green growth, a model that promises to create financial wealth free from negative environmental impacts.

But this model is dangerous for three reasons: it fails to properly estimate pollution transfers between lifecycles; it fails to allow for the effects of scale and the systemic effects associated with mass adoption of these innovations, and it leads people to believe they can maintain their lifestyles and consumption habits because technology will solve the ecological crisis. 

The negative effects of these technological innovations are proven, so how can we innovate differently to avoid undesirable impacts and help create a society that is truly sustainable? This article explores two complementary approaches.