Writing in his new book, Living Within Our Means, Mr Porritt argues that politicians now have a unique opportunity to rebuild economies in a more sustainable way.

But, he continues, if the problems are ignored it could lead to a ‘perfect storm’ as accelerating climate change and financial meltdown collide.

“Unless we put the imperative of living within our means, both financially and environmentally, absolutely at the heart of everything we do to dig ourselves out of this recession, then any economic reprieve that we enjoy at the end of that time will be as bittersweet as it will be short-lived,” writes Mr Porritt, founder director of sustainable development charity Forum for the Future and chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission.

“Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that managed to rescue the global banking system even as we allowed the natural world to collapse around us?”

Porritt argues that few politicians grasp the scale of the task ahead.

Although he welcomes the UK’s Climate Change Act, he warns that there is no serious indicator that the Government is using the current crisis to rethink the way we live and the way we create wealth.

He sets out in detail how “Anglo-American deregulated, debt-driven, growth-at-all-costs capitalism” is responsible not only for the near-collapse of the global banking system but also the “near-imminent collapse of the ecological systems on which we all depend.”

Living Within Our Means follows Mr Porritt’s acclaimed book Capitalism As If The World Matters.

Mr Porritt was voted environmental personality of the year 2009 by edie readers and will be sitting on the judging panel for this year’s Awards for Environmental Excellence.

Sam Bond

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