In this interview, we welcome Ian Gough to discuss his most recent book Heat, Greed and Human Need: Climate Change, Capitalism, and Sustainable Wellbeing. Here, Ian describes his initial concerns over the evident gap between the climate change agenda and social policy over the last decade. Ian’s work aims to blend together economy, ecology, social policy, and politics into a conclusive analysis to explain both the drivers and the human consequences of climate change. He discusses the importance of eco-social policies (combining climate policies and social policies) with examples such as social pricing of utilities, higher taxes on luxury items, or reduced work schedules to enhance people’s lives. Like many, Ian is worried about the consumption rate of wealthy nations and discusses his idea of ‘recomposing consumption’ as an intermediate strategy: to reduce pointless luxuries and improve the production of necessities to enhance wellbeing. He uses the example of 46 million people driving SUVs in the United States. The World Bank found that if all these SUVs were swapped for European cars, enough electricity could be generated within this emissions envelope to supply all the people on the planet with power. While SUVs are not a necessity, electricity is, and Ian stresses our need to start thinking about this on a world scale.
Ian is Visiting Professor at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and an associate at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (GRI), both at the LSE. He studied Economics at the University of Cambridge in the early 1960s and then spent over 30 years teaching and researching Social Policy at Manchester University before moving onto the University of Bath, where he is now Emeritus Professor.