Beautiful green world? On the myth of the green capitalist economy

By the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

June 13, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The "green economy": It will stop climate change and the extinction of species and in so doing will create high growth rates and millions of jobs. It’s seen as a miraculous weapon. Through it, global capitalism will be stabilised. And then it will be sustainable as well.

But what is the green economy? In it, policy parameters are supposed to ensure the flow of capital to make markets and the economy "greener" and create "green" jobs. Enterprises are to pay an "appropriate" price for environmental damage. And not least: the state is supposed to orient its public procurements to sustainability criteria and create sustainable infrastructures.

As of June 2012 at the UN’s Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro, the green economy is to become a new central concept of global policy. The conference is taking place on the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, where the magic formula "sustainable development" was coined.

In 2012, the green economy is on everyone’s lips. For 20 years now people have been rhapsodising over the greening of capitalism. At the same time it is clear that somehow sustainable development is not faring so well. CO2 emissions are increasing. Biological diversity is contracting. Famine, impoverishment and social inequality are increasing in many countries. The much feted "conciliation of ecology and economy" is proving hard to construct. The green economy is not what many want to see it as: a magical formula which will offer solutions on a silver tray for many problems.

With this brochure the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation wants to demonstrate that green economy is a contested term, which can be filled with many different contents – according to different interests. And we hope to show where the proposals fall short, seek a too hasty compromise with the ruling forces and suppress alternatives rather than promote them.

It is clear that if the green economy does not break with the structures of the old economy and merely serves as a growth program for the latter, it will quickly lead to disillusionment and lose its sheen.

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Beautiful green world? On the myth of the green capitalist economy