Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students explore how countries’ pursuit of growth economies for better living standards for its citizens are unsustainable and will ultimately lead to worse living standards in the future. They explore alternatives, such as the degrowth movement, which promotes living within the planet’s productive means.

Subjects: Economics and Business.

Year Levels: Year 10.

Topics: Climate change

Teaching Time: 60 minutes.


Cool would like to thank the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation for generously supporting the development of these lessons.


21st-century skills: 

Critical ThinkingGlobal Citizenship

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: Year 10 Economics and Business:

  • The links between economic performance and living standards, and how and why variations exist within and between economies (ACHEK051)

Syllabus Outcomes: C5.2, C5.3, C5.4

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work IPCC Climate Change Solutions.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Lead students through discussion and support them in independent work.

Resources required:

  • Art supplies – coloured pencils and textas
  • Device capable of displaying a video to students
  • White paper – A3 size.

Related Professional Development: If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach challenging topics around climate change and sustainability in your classroom through a Hope and Optimism lens, consider our PD course.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand how an unsustainable growth economy will ultimately lead to lower living standards. 

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... explain what is meant by the terms growth economy, stable economy, recession, and degrowth
  • ... explain the cost of society's over-consumption of natural resources
  • ... critically reflect on what is truly necessary for a 'high' standard of living. 

Teacher content information: 

The unsustainable economy and the degrowth movement

If the economy is growing it means that value is being created at some level. That might mean that new desirable goods and services are being created, or existing goods and services are being created more efficiently and therefore lowering the price to buy them. For example, someone comes up with something new that makes life better for other people - the microwave. They then trade that to other people and both parties become wealthier as a result. O

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