Freedom Press

Green Capitalism: why it can’t work


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By Daniel Tanuro

What should be done to resolve the climate crisis? Tanuro argues that government measures – eco-taxes, commodification of natural resources, and carbon trading – do not tackle the drive for profit. Evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other sources demonstrates the impossibility of a sustainable “green capitalism”.

Climate degradation comes with the “natural” functioning of capitalism – a system based on the accumulation of capital (in particular the functioning of the energy system required by this accumulation process). An “emancipatory project” to overcome the impending crisis needs to recognize natural constraints and aim for a fundamental redefinition of social wealth. Tanuro uses the Marxist theory of value to explain ecological crisis. He addresses a failing in Marx’s ecology: an inadequate appreciation of the crucial implications of capitalism’s reliance on non-renewable fossil-fuel resources. He challenges both mainstream Green strategy and traditional Left alternatives. He points to solutions: “de-growth”, “re-localisation” and the decentralisation of production are necessary to limit global warming.

The book includes a critique of popular writers on the environmental crisis, ranging from Jared Diamond to Hans Jonas, it discusses the economic and technological transition scenarios, and includes a critical assessment of the contributions of Marxist writers such as John Bellamy Foster, Paul Burkett and Ernest Mandel.