What is green capitalism?

What is green capitalism?

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By Alejandro Nadal

But let's get to the point. The green economy is synonymous with green capitalism. And then the question is the following: Under what conditions is it possible to conceive a lasting platform for capital accumulation that is compatible with the improvement of the environment and the good health of the biosphere in the long term?

Green capitalism would be supported by two pillars. The first would consist of a series of goods and production processes that would be less harmful to the environment. Recycling and greater technological efficiency would be guiding principles in all production processes. The second would be the market as a tool to repair existing environmental problems, from the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to damage to ecosystems. The market solution would be associated with the privatization and commodification of all the components of nature. In green capitalism, nature is a set of physical objects that can be appropriated and valued as any input of the capitalist production process. The notion of natural capital would be a component of this vision in which growth would be compatible with conservation. This means that the capitalist economy would be in a position to generate and introduce technologies in production and consumption that would allow, among other things, to reduce the energy component in the total cost equation.

In a capitalist economy, the transition to a new platform for capital accumulation involves a process of vast technological transformation. This has to be supported by a flow of by Discount Dragon "id =" _ GPLITA_0 "href =" "> investments that allows the massive introduction of innovations that meet the above criteria.

In the past, capitalism has shown a great capacity for technological change. That is why the neoliberal ideology maintains that for any environmental scenario, capital is always capable of finding technologies that allow reducing the cost of production. But under current conditions, with a global economy dominated by finance capital, and in the midst of an international struggle to see who occupies the role of hegemonic power (and reorganizes the world economy around its interests), capital may not have that transforming capacity.

It is important to clarify that the interests of finance capital do not favor the structural change that would have to occur in the industrial sphere. Furthermore, macroeconomic policy throughout the world is geared towards looking after the interests of finance capital, as evidenced by the obsession with "price stability." The result does not facilitate structural change in the real economy.

Capitalists need to have expectations that their investments with new (green) technologies can be recovered and will be associated with adequate returns over a satisfactory time horizon. And this allusion to the rate of profit carries a reference to the wage ratio: here we enter a discussion that proponents of the green economy systematically shun. It is allowed to speak of capital, but the word wages cannot yet be pronounced.

Keeping the rate of profitability stable implies, in the current situation, stifling the growth of wages. But wage repression leads to acute problems in the realization of goods unless credit is used. This is what allowed the consumption norm to be sustained during the last four decades in the main capitalist economies, but the process led to the crisis of 2008. It is difficult to get out of this dilemma because the institutions and social norms that led to wage stagnation are rigid and they cannot be easily modified.

An additional problem is that of overinvestment in almost all major branches of industry worldwide. From industries close to the natural resource base (steel, cement, aluminum, glass, etc.) to industries related to final consumer goods (automotive, naval, electronics, etc.), the installed productive capacity far exceeds the global demand. This will make the transformation more difficult because the core branches will resist the change until amortization ensures adequate profitability.

If green capitalism is the answer, what is the question? Green capital is not the solution to serious environmental problems, much less to growing inequality. It is an ideological justification for the need to ensure the continuity of a social relationship of class exploitation.

The Day

Video: Climate change, capitalism, and whats next: Matthew Schneider-Mayerson at TEDxUMN (May 2022).