This article traces the rise of new ideas about energy and growth in West Germany between 1973 and 1986. It shows how new economic expertise emerged in response to the oil shocks, and looks at how West Germany could, paradoxically, sustain growth in a world of seemingly exhausted and insecure energy sources. These experts reconceptualized the economy to imagine a future where decoupling-reducing energy consumption while expanding Gross Domestic Production-was possible. They found support in the Social Democratic Party, which, in using their ideas to overcome an internal rift precipitated by the rise of the Green movement in the 1970s, helped make these new ideas mainstream. Investigating this new energy paradigm helps us understand why Germany began to diverge from other large, industrialized states in the 1980s, as it increasingly focused on energy conservation rather than on expanding its energy supply.
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