Ever since the 2007-2009 cycle of global economic crisis and the contemporaneous rise in public awareness about climate change, a capitalist green economy delivering green growth has been touted as a global win-win-win solution by think tanks, international institutions, public intellectuals and political parties. By combining support for green-tech innovation with market mechanisms and “smart” regulatory measures that recognize the economic value of nature, it is supposed to overcome economic stagnation, global poverty and the climate crisis at once. Various heads of government reaffirmed this roadmap upon signing the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.
This project will confront the green-capitalist utopia with critical political ecology and regulation theory, both of which raise hard questions about the ecological sustainability, economic viability and political feasibility of an emergent “green” accumulation regime. The blind spots and unquestioned assumptions of extensive Green Economy studies provided by international institutions such as the World Bank, OECD and UNEP will be explored and political-economic conflicts around the “actually emergent” Green Economy put into starker relief. This systematic ideology critique begins at a high level of theoretical abstraction, analyzing the antagonistic relationship between ecology and capital, and then descends to more concrete manifestations of this antagonism in Green Economy models and recent moves towards their partial implementation in real-world policies.
While focusing on the ecological crunch for capitalism and its social implications, this project also seeks to contribute to wider debates about future economic and technological developments, the longer-term prospects of democracy and the elusive “end of capitalism.”