On the Nature of the Countermovement: A Response to Stuart et al.’s ‘Climate Change and the Polanyian Countermovement: Carbon Markets or Degrowth?’
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In a recent article for this journal, Stuart, D., Gunderson, R., and Petersen, B. [(2017). Climate change and the Polanyian counter-movement: carbon markets or degrowth? New political economy, 1–14. doi:10.1080/13563467.2017.1417364] discuss solutions to climate change in terms of Karl Polanyi’s concept of the double movement. They set up their argument as a critique of my own article on the topic to make the point that carbon markets do not constitute a genuine form of such countermovement. I’m sympathetic to the critique of carbon markets that the authors present, as well as their discussion of degrowth, which mirrors a by now extensive literature demonstrating the pitfalls respectively the necessity of these diametrically opposed approaches to the current socioecological crisis. However, in setting up their case the authors provide an overly optimistic reading of Polanyi that I believe misses a crucial part of his argument, a reading that at least partly explains our differences in opinion. This commentary offers a friendly critique of Stuart et al.’s use of Polanyi and clarifies the argument in my previous text that the authors take issue with.