Architects of Green New Deal Think That Life in Honduras Is Better than in Germany


The Happy Planet Index does not assess the living standards of countries according to their GDP but according to... their carbon footprint. The worse the energy poverty, the "happier" the country.

You have probably never heard of this, but the Green New Deal was first drafted in the United Kingdom in 2008. It was penned by something called the New Economics Foundation (NEF). A year later, they published a book with the self-explanatory title Prosperity without Growth.

These economists do not believe in economic growth. What we call prosperity, they denounce as consumerism. Having more savings or more customers next year - that is just plain materialism for them. Just imagine if your company's managers tried doing business like this.

CEO: "Oh dear. What is happening here? How come we have been in a loss for a third quarter in a row? One more year like this, and we will be out of business."

Accountant: "Thank you for the compliment. You're welcome."

According to these gentlemen, gross domestic product is not a good indicator of wellbeing. After all, one can be rich and yet unhappy. For instance, if someone is sad that the slaves in his solar panel producing factory in China don't love him. Or a poor country might appear rich just because a billionaire has a cottage there.

Therefore, NEF has proposed an alternative indicator. It has three components: Average length of life, subjective feelings of satisfaction in the country (obtained through questionnaires), and carbon footprint. Unlike the Gini Index, they ignore the inequality of distribution of wealth.

The problem is that there is very little relationship between carbon footprint and happiness... especially if you use the indicator upside down.

In the last 200 years, we have observed a correlation between carbon footprint and poverty rates. The higher the CO2 emissions, the lower the poverty. If the economy is strong and burns a lot of coal, people get richer and fewer children die of hunger. Perhaps we might "decouple" (not reverse) this relationship, but hardly in an underdeveloped country.

So one would logically assume that in the Happy Planet Index a country would get better marks if it had a larger carbon footprint. But no, they do the exact opposite. The countries with the worst energy poverty are given the best scores. As if energy poverty makes someone happier.

Well, this explains so much. No wonder that some politicians love the Green New Deal. According to this index, running a country is fairly easy. Even a total idiot can pride himself as a successful ruler who has led his people to happiness. The more you fuck up your economy and the more people die of hunger, the better your Happy Planet Index.

On their web, the latest results are from 2019: The United States of America (122th) is behind Rwanda (114th), and Albania (36th) is better than Sweden (41st). Germany ranks 29th and can only envy the happy lives of the people of Honduras (9th). According to the authors, war-ravaged Libya (91st) has the same wellbeing as Belgium (92nd).

If this really was an indicator of happiness, shouldn't people vote with their feet and emigrate from the US to Rwanda and from Sweden to Albania? But who knows, perhaps if the Green New Deal is implemented in your homeland, you too may look forward to reaching the shiny living standards of Rwanda or Honduras.


Chris Snowdon. Shiny happy people? The madness of the Happy Planet Index. Adam Smith Institute 12.6.2012. (the website of the indicator) (the 2008 Green New Deal programme)