The rise of green capitalism

Can capitalism and the climate ever be friends?

A narrative of capitalism versus the climate is a well-worn one, but leaves out several key voices, not least that of green capitalism. But this argument is growing. Indeed, it may have particular traction on the run-up to the up-coming UN talks in New York, potentially offering a powerful frame for Paris 2015.

For many, this isn’t a problem at all. Quite the opposite, a flourishing environmentalist centre-right is an opportunity to build meaningful action on climate change. But that doesn’t mean it is uncontroversial either. Most environmentalists agree climate change demands social change of some sort; it’s just what kind of change, how drastic, where, and who takes the burden of risk. Do we want this new world built on capitalist distributions of power any more than we want socialist ones? Even if we agree on a form of capitalism, there are questions of which form, and who gets to take the bulk of a possibly new distribution of power. It might be Bloombergs rather than Bushes, and Unilever rather than BP, or it might be something else entirely.

With post-Occupy debate over economics still very much on the political agenda, the ideologies of climate change feel slightly less binary. Once we agree on the science, the political differences can become all the more stark. Tackling this requires environmentalists to admit their own ideological stances, work out how to constructively disagree with each other, and where to productively collaborate or compromise.

If you want to read more: This is a controversy likely to build, so look out for Felipe Calderón’s Commission on a New Climate Economy and discussions around Naomi Klein’s new book.