Book Review: Climate Capitalism: Global Warming and the Transformation of the Global Economy Peter Newell and Matthew Paterson Cambridge University Press
Paperback ISBN-13: 9780521127288
These two experienced and useful academics, who admit they are “highly skeptical of the idea that capitalism can deliver either a socially just or sustainable future” have written a complex and challenging book that does indeed do what it says on the tin. In ten chapters they take the reader through “the history of climate, histories of capitalism” through “mobilising investors”, the limits and ‘perverse incentives’ of carbon trading and (perhaps less well) the ‘limits of climate capitalism’. The four possible scenarios they sketch out in chapter 9 (climate capitalist utopia, stagnation, decarbonised dystopia and climate keynesianism) are useful tools for thought. There’s a good list of abbreviations to help readers through the alphabet soup, a so-so index and a very handy glossary. What’s missing? Well, cartoons, humour, pithy quotes and, to be fairer to a book that is after all published by Cambridge Uni Press, mention of Jevon’s Paradox – that increased efficiencies in resource use do not automatically (or even often) lead to an overall reduction in the consumption of that resource – and an acknowledgement that even if the Climate crisis were mysteriously sorted out, we have plenty of other overwhelming environmental problems. Verdict: a must-read for anyone wanting more than the standard denunciations and jeremiads.
Supported by Artists Project Earth
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