Guide Greening the Car Industry: Varieties of Capitalism and Climate Change

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On current trends, the years to come will see rising temperatures , droughts , a fight to feed a growing population, and a race against time to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The struggle to combat climate change brings out the best and worst of capitalism. Innovation is what capitalism is all about, and there has been staggeringly rapid progress in developing clean alternatives to coal, oil and gas.

The cost of producing solar- and wind-powered electricity has collapsed. Capitalist economies are even better at producing new energy-consuming technologies and products.

Back to Elliott: Humans are endlessly creative. In the end, they will crack climate change. But by the time they do, it could be too late. Capitalism—especially the dominant Anglo-Saxon variant of capitalism—has trouble thinking beyond the here and now.

Capitalism vs. the Climate

During wars, the best brains are employed by governments to produce more efficient killing machines. But normally creative destruction takes time, especially if the old guard can marshall sufficient resistance to change—something the fossil fuel industry has been adept at doing. Jekyll emerges victorious over its Mr.

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More than that, it needs to be an immediate knockout blow. In the past, politicians have [only tended to focus only] on climate change when they think there is nothing else to worry about. Tony Blair, for example, commissioned a report from the economist Nick Stern into climate change during the years before the global financial crisis, when growth was strong and wages were rising. Margaret Thatcher only started to talk publicly about protecting the environment when the economy was booming at the end of the s.

That is an interesting observation that warrants further discussion. When policymakers have other things to worry about, tackling climate change drops down the list of things to do. When times are tough, politicians are suckers for the argument that there is a trade-off between growth and greening the economy. Companies account for capital depreciation when they draw up their profit and loss accounts.

  1. Greening the Car Industry Varieties of Capitalism and Climate Change.
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  7. If governments adopted the same principle and accounted for the depletion of natural capital when drawing up their national accounts, growth would be lower. In countries such as China and India—where the cities are dangerously polluted—it would be markedly lower. The resulting changes in the marketplace would be dramatic. Every purchase would become more constructive and less destructive. In such an economy Rather than argue about where to put our wastes, who will pay for it, and how long it will be before toxins leak out into the groundwater, we should be trying to design systems that are elegantly imitative of climax ecosystems found in nature.

    Companies must re-envision and re-imagine themselves as cyclical corporations, whose products either literally disappear into harmless components, or The "sustainable" "green" "natural" capitalism movement took off in the s and '90s: Organic farming came into the mainstream, and Whole Foods became the fastest-growing sector of the grocery industry. Green businesses sprouted up in every sector from renewable energy to organic cottons to eco-travel.

    Stores added green products in every aisle. Eventually, even big corporations like 3M and Walmart embraced green "business practices," cutting waste, recycling, and producing and adopting less toxic products. Europe introduced the first large-scale cap-and-trade system in January Finland introduced the first carbon tax in , and many other countries followed suit, including Sweden, Germany, Britain, South Korea, South Africa, Korea, some provinces of Canada and even some American states, including Maryland, Colorado and California.

    First, the project of "sustainable" "green" capitalism was misconceived and doomed from the start because maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, here and there, they might coincide for a moment.

    That's because, under capitalism, CEOs and corporate boards are not responsible to society; they're responsible to private owners and shareholders. CEOs might embrace environmentalism so long as this also increases profits, but they're not free to subordinate profit maximizing to saving the world - because to do so would be to risk shareholder flight or worse.

    I claim that profit-maximization is an iron rule of capitalism, a rule that trumps all else and sets the possibilities and limits of ecological reform - and not the other way around, as green capitalism theorists suppose. Second, no capitalist government on Earth can impose "green taxes" that would drive the coal industry or any other industry out of business, or even force major retrenchments by suppressing production because, among other important reasons, given capitalism, this would just provoke recession and mass unemployment - if not worse.

    This means the carbon tax strategy to stop global warming is a non-starter. Without green taxes, the entire green capitalist project collapses. Third, green capitalism enthusiasts vastly underestimate the gravity, scope and speed of the global ecological collapse we face and thus unrealistically imagine that growth can continue forever if we just tweak the incentives and penalties a bit here and there with green taxes and such. But the capitalist market system is inherently eco-suicidal.

    Endless growth can end only in catastrophic eco-collapse. No amount of tinkering can alter the market system's suicidal trajectory. Therefore, like it or not, humanity has no choice but to try to find a way to replace capitalism with some kind of post-capitalist ecologically sustainable economy.

    Greening the Car Industry: Varieties of Capitalism and Climate Change

    Fourth, green capitalism theorists grossly overestimate the potential of "clean green" production and "dematerializing" the economy, whereas, in reality, much if not most, of the economy - from resource extraction like mining and drilling to metals smelting and chemicals production - as well as most manufacturing and many services cannot be greened in any meaningful sense at all.

    This means that the only way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the 80 percent that scientists say we need to do to save the humans, is to enforce a drastic contraction of production in the industrialized countries, especially in the most polluting and wasteful sectors. Most industries will have to be sharply retrenched. Some, the very worst polluting and wasteful, will have to be closed entirely. Because, under capitalism, industries can't be expected to voluntarily commit economic suicide, even to save the humans, the only way to carry out these necessary contractions and closures is to nationalize industry and socialize the losses, redeploy labor to sectors society does actually need to develop, like renewable energy, public transit, decent housing for all and so on and shorten the working day to spread the remaining work around.

    Fifth, consumerism and overconsumption are not "dispensable" and cannot be exorcised because they're not just "cultural" or "habitual.

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    We can't shop our way to sustainability because the problems we face cannot be solved by individual choices in the marketplace. But what motivates firms to reduce the environmental impact of their products? Rather than accepting the conventional wisdom, John Mikler addresses this question in a novel way by taking a comparative institutionalist approach informed by the Varieties of Capitalism literature. Focusing on Germany, the US and Japan, the author shows that national variations in capitalist relations of production are central to explaining how the car industry tackles the issue of climate change, such variations are crucial for understanding the normative as well as material basis for firms' motivations.

    Greening the Car Industry: Varieties of Capitalism and Climate Change - John Mikler - Google книги

    This ground-breaking book will be of great benefit to students and academics, particularly those with an interest in comparative politics, public policy and international political economy. Given the book's contemporary policy relevance, it will be a valuable reference for policy practitioners with an interest in industry policy, multinational corporations, the environment, and institutional approaches to comparative politics. Free Returns We hope you are delighted with everything you buy from us. However, if you are not, we will refund or replace your order up to 30 days after purchase.