Is increasing consumption the key obstacle to achieving sustainability?


📅 When: Thu, 23 Feb 2023, 16:00 – 19:00 GMT

📍 Where: Saïd Business School Park End Street Oxford OX1 1HP

💡 Event organised by Cambridge Cleantech

🎫 Free for members

Oxfordshire Greentech and Cambridge Cleantech invite you to join us at our debate event at the Said Business School in Oxford, sponsored by Michael Page, as we aim to dive into the key obstacles to achieving sustainability. Whether you consider yourself a sustainability expert or are completely new to it, this debate will be an opportunity to learn from the subject’s experts and meet other likeminded people.

The debate subject

“Since the mid-1980s, the average GINI coefficient, the most commonly used measure of inequality, increased by about 10 per cent. In a globalized economy in which competition for resources is increasing, the tastes of consumers in affluent societies are pitted against the needs not only of disadvantaged members of their own societies but also of vastly poorer populations in the global South.

Arguments have been advanced that economic inequality and environmental degradation are mutually reinforcing: large income inequalities can lead to runaway resource use by those at the top, whose relative purchasing power is huge, putting major pressures on the environment; and the more a society is unequal, the more consumption can be driven to unsustainable excesses by status competition.”

This provocation comes from Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur 2008-2014. As we seek to understand how best to tackle the complex problem of making a sustainable world, our debate asks: Is inequality the key obstacle to achieving sustainability?



The debate will loosely follow debates held in British Parliament, where a motion is moved to “divide the House” in order to vote. Three speakers on each side will present speeches in the proposition of and opposition to the motion. Our debate event will give expert speakers the chance to grapple with this question and offer their insights.




Professor Kevin Anderson (Professor of Energy and Climate Change in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester and former Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research)

Dr Luke Kemp (Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge)

Dr Rabhya Dewshi (Co-ordinator with Extinction Rebellion, senior clinical psychologist)





Professor Myles Allen (Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford, Director of the Oxford Net Zero initiative, and Coordinating Lead Author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Special Report on 1.5 degrees)

Professor Alison Greig (Director of Education for Sustainability (EfS) at Anglia Ruskin University and leader of the EfS research theme at the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI))

Professor AbuBakr Bahaj (Leads the Energy & Climate Change Division and the Sustainable Energy Research Group (ECCD) at the University of Southampton, Co-Chair of the Research Adivsory Group for the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Co-Chair of the Southampton Climate Comission and also leads the University of Southampton Sustainable Strategy Implementation Group)


4:00 pm: Reception and registration

4:30 pm: Welcome by Hannah Scott, Oxfordshire Greentech

4:40pm: Introduction to speakers; debate begins

6:00 pm: End of debate. Speakers and attendees are then welcomed to join us for a drinks reception and networking.

7:00 pm Event ends