Version 3.2_September 2016

Research In Action Special Session: Green Economy and carbon metrics

Saving the world with markets and techno-fixes?

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Reconciling climate protection and resource conservation with economic growth in a finite and unjust world remains an illusion. With its positive associations, the term “green economy” suggests that the world as we know it can continue. However, making this promise requires deliberately downplaying complexity and having powerful faith in the miracles of the market economy and technological innovation, while at the same time ignoring and not wanting to tackle existing economic and political power structures. In the wake of the realization that “business as usual” is not an option, the green economy thus provides a supposedly non-political vehicle to gain hegemony over the transformation path while obscuring questions of economic and political interests, power and ownership structures, human rights and the resources of power. In the green economy debate climate change is often framed as the largest threat, trumping loss of biodiversity, soil degradation and other forms of destruction of planetary scale. In the “brave new climate world” everything is perceived as a problem that can be expressed in terms of tons of carbon equivalents in the atmosphere. But the way we describe and frame a problem very much predetermines the kinds of solutions and answers we seek. A carbon-centric mode not only leads to false solutions (such as carbon trading and geoengineering) but also results in ecological epistemicide, destroying vital knowledge and cultures that our common future depends on.