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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred new interest in a movement that wants to reverse the pace of economic growth.

The big picture: Degrowth advocates believe that the only way to save the Earth is to stop focusing on growth at all costs in favor of a more equitable redistribution of resources. The pandemic is providing a crash test of those principles — for better and for worse.

What's happening: On May 13, more than 1,100 experts from around the world released a manifesto calling for a degrowth strategy to tackle the economic and human crisis caused by COVID-19.

  • The open letter urged the adoption of a "democratically planned yet adaptive, sustainable, and equitable downscaling of the economy, leading to a future where we can live better with less."

How it works: The degrowth movement is a radical response to the challenges of climate change and inequality. While economic growth of some kind is the stated goal of virtually every policymaker and economist, degrowthers believe that the obsession with economic growth is ruining the planet and leading to human unhappiness on a global scale.

  • This position puts them to the left of even most environmentalists, who push for "green growth" — the idea that economic growth can be made more sustainable by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and other pollutants.
  • To degrowthers, simply decarbonizing the economy isn't enough. Humanity has to shrink its overall footprint, while sharing what remains in a more equitable fashion.

Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a period of enforced degrowth, as economies around the world have been thrown into reverse.

  • A new forecast by the Asian Development Bank predicts that the global economy could suffer losses as high as $8.8 trillion because of the pandemic — equivalent to nearly 10% of global GDP.
  • The reversal of economic growth has led to a reduction in carbon emissions, which could fall 5.5% or more this year. But that's a lot of economic and human pain to endure for a carbon footprint that would still be almost 95% as large as it was before the pandemic.

The bottom line: Degrowthers are arguing for the equivalent of a managed retreat from economic growth, not the helter-skelter measures we've seen with COVID-19. But it's difficult to see their ideas gaining mainstream traction at a moment when much of the world seems more interested in regaining normalcy than igniting revolution.

Go deeper: The changes that will outlast the crisis

Go deeper

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.