My friend Stuart on climate change and capitalism: How to Change the Future â€” and Why We Need To!
Personally, I can see why the argument that capitalism and sustainability are incompatible is convincing to a lot of people. At the same time, I think we have enough of a project on our hands just in replacing the global energy system with a climate-friendly alternative. Replacing capitalism at the same time may well be impractical – and there is no way of being sure that any system with which we replace it will do any better. To me, the liberal economic solution of internalizing externalities through regulation and tools like carbon pricing seems like the most promising path for checking humanity’s more self-destructive impulses. Admittedly, success will require that governments and citizens take a longer-term view of their own interests and develop a greater ability to resist the influence of fossil fuel companies and the short-term temptations associated with excessive fossil fuel use.
Also, I think there is a critical role that capitalist finance will play in driving the global clean-energy transformation. Right now, the plan is to spend trillions of dollars during the next century extracting and processing the world’s remaining fossil fuels. If we are going to build things like country-sized renewable energy facilities (which we will need for everyone on the planet to develop or maintain lifestyles that will probably be acceptable to them), that massive investment will need to be re-directed and the capitalist mechanisms of innovation, deployment, and return-on-investment will likely be necessary.
There was a discussion about this here before: Climate change and capitalism