Climate Change, Capitalism and Degrowth Trajectories to a Global Steady-State Economy

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Climate change (CC) is one of the major and most encompassing threats in the world today. While the facts and high-consensus predictions among natural scientists are increasingly well-known, the understanding of CC as a socio-ecological issue is much less clear and
uncontroversial. This paper summarizes the available climate science expertise and then discusses the genesis of CC as a socio-ecological issue highlighting its parallel development with capitalism. It moves on to review institutional approaches to study the link between
capitalist diversity and greenhouse gas emissions and outlines future research directions with emphasis on a possible reconciliation of Marxian and “degrowth” thought. Due to the lacking evidence for absolute decoupling of economic growth, material resource use and
carbon emissions it is argued that all societies, whether socialist or capitalist, will need to deprioritize economic growth as policy goal in the course of the twenty-first century. International critical thought should be dedicated towards analyzing the structural challenges and opportunities in building a global steady-state economy as well as associated postgrowth societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-452
JournalInternational Critical Thought
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Social Sciences

Free keywords

  • steady-state economy
  • climate change
  • capitalism
  • degrowth
  • post-growth society


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