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Heat, Greed and Human Need

This book builds an essential bridge between climate change and social policy. Combining ethics and human need theory with political economy and climate science, it offers a long-term, interdisciplinary analysis of the prospects for sustainable development and social justice. Beyond ‘green growth’ (which assumes an unprecedented rise in the emissions efficiency of production) it envisages two further policy stages vital for rich countries: a progressive ‘recomposition’ of consumption, and a post-growth ceiling on demand.


This book has become a classic, much cited by scholars, students, policy-makers and activists in the spectrum of fields encompassed by ‘eco-social policy’. Indeed it pioneered the term.

Spanish translation out now...

Published by Miño y Dávila

The E-book version is available here.

Published by Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd in hardback, paperback and electronic format

Electronic version (chapter one free to access).




"There are few scholarly books about climate change that take the issue of the distribution of its costs, and of the costs and benefits of its mitigation, as seriously as their absolute value. This is probably the best of those books that I have come across. Rigorously rooted in Gough’s earlier work on theories of human need, the book is relentless in its pursuit of equity in respect of climate change and responses to it. Not everyone will agree with all its conclusions – for example that “green capitalism merits the term ‘contradiction’” – but they are unfailingly thought-provoking, as all good scholarship should be. Highly recommended."

Paul Ekins, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, UK

"Ian Gough’s Heat, Greed and Human Need could not be more relevant or needed in this day and age. . . Although post-growth is still considered a highly radical demand, Gough is not afraid to postulate a transition pathway beyond the capitalistic system. With sustainable wellbeing as his guiding principle and an eco-social political economy perspective, Gough proposes a credible transformation process, especially for rich countries, which could actually lead to meeting the 1.5°C limit of global warming and a sustainable future for all."

Anna Braam, Intergenerational Justice Review

"Comment concilier l'impératif de justice sociale avec la nécessité de préserver les équilibres écologiques? Telle est la question centrale du livre de Ian Gough. la plupart des analyses de ce phénomène mettent principalement l'accent sur ses dimensions technique ou économique - l'éco-efficacité des productions - sans guère prendre en compte sa dimension sociale. Le récent livre de Ian Gough vient combler cette lacune."
RFSE (Revue française de socio-économie), N°22 2019



"In his book, Gough offers an impressive synthesis of ideas drawn from wholly disparate areas of academic research and distills them into clear-cut suggestions on how to move forward in the climate crisis. Given the urgency of the climate challenge and its complexity, such approaches are laudable and welcome."

Swiss Political Science Association

"In this wonderful book, Ian Gough shows how we can deal with climate change sensibly, by developing eco-social policy that promotes human wellbeing. The result is a tour de force. Demonstrating sophisticated knowledge of several relevant fields, Gough combines important multidisciplinary insights with his previous groundbreaking research on human needs. The result is a coherent, usable framework that has considerable value in guiding Author: policy discussions. This impressive work is bound to become essential reading for anyone working on policy, climate change and sustainable human well-being."

Gillian Brock, International Dialogue

"Demonstrating how Green Growth strategies of decarbonisation are necessary but insufficient, Gough mobilizes a wealth of expertise in human well- being and the political economy of welfare states to argue eco-social policies can achieve a second step reduction in consumption emissions and a politico-institutional bridge to the post-growth economies that are ultimately necessary in the rich North."

Ecological Economics

"A profoundly original intervention in the ongoing debate about climate change. A particularly interesting feature of the book is the way in which the author brings his expertise on welfare to bear on climate policy. Sustainable wellbeing is his guiding principle."

Anthony Giddens, Member of the House of Lords and former Director of the LSE

"Ian Gough has hit the sweet spot. He has shown us how it is possible to reduce inequality, satisfy human needs in culturally diverse ways and reduce the risks of dangerous climate change. What’s more, his commanding and wide-ranging critical engagement with the theory and practice of managing the transition to a safer climate demonstrates that, far from being a diversion from this project, prioritising human needs and reinventing the welfare state are critical to its political success."

Robyn Eckersley, University of Melbourne, Australia

"Ian Gough has done something no one else has yet achieved. He has brought together theoretical and empirical analysis in four different fields – economy, ecology, social policy and politics – to produce a coherent and convincing analysis of why climate change is occurring, its human and social consequences, and how it can be addressed. Gough attaches the rigour of social science to a deeply humanitarian ethical framework; he provides at once a profound understanding of how serious climate change is and a clear-eyed realism about the kind of political and economic programme which might be able to stop it. This is a very important book."

Michael Jacobs, University College London, UK

"One of the most excellent books in the field I have ever read. It is compulsory reading for our students in the International Joint Master Programme in Sustainable Development, and they have given very positive feedback."

Prof. Dr. Alfred Posch, Institute of Systems Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, University of Graz, Austria

Ian Gough's latest book is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the enormity of the task at hand

International Dialogue 2018

'In this wonderful book, Ian Gough shows how we can deal with climate change sensibly, by developing eco-social policy that promotes human wellbeing. The result is a tour de force.'

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