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In: Encyclopedia of Geography. Edited by: Barney Warf. Stratford, E. Ecological modernization.

Journal of Political Ecology

Warf Ed. Stratford, Elaine. Stratford, E , 'Ecological modernization', in Warf, B ed. Barney Warf. SAGE Knowledge. Have you created a personal profile? Login or create a profile so that you can create alerts and save clips, playlists, and searches. Please log in from an authenticated institution or log into your member profile to access the email feature. Ecological modernization is shorthand for two ideas: 1 that it is possible to maintain or increase the rate of economic growth and protect the environment and 2 that diseconomies and ecological harm may be diminished by policy correctives and technological fixes that design environmental criteria into economic systems.

Climate protection policy

Its apparent appeal lies in its capacity to generate positive-sum solutions to problems conceived as zero sum, move beyond remedial and regulatory environmental strategies of the s, avoid structural change seen as intractably difficult, and accommodate however uncomfortably both radical environmental critiques and neoliberal economic practices. In short, the term refers to the restructuring of the capitalist economy along environmentally sound lines.

Nevertheless, it has been criticized for perpetuating social injustices, economic unfairness, and environmental harm because CQ Press Your definitive resource for politics, policy and people.


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Remember me? The WMO report also alluded to other grievous anthropogenic climate impacts, including rapidly rising sea levels, likely to surge in coming years as a result of the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice. Researchers also warned that the Arctic is experiencing extraordinarily hot sea surface and air temperatures, which are stopping the formation of ice at the North Pole. The environmental systems on which life on Earth depends are breaking down under the weight of a fossil capitalist system that has entered a phase of increasingly extreme extraction. Terms like global warming and climate change are far too anesthetic to characterize the crisis of our times: we are living through a planetary mass extinction event that is on track to exterminate most life on Earth.

His presidency will vastly accelerate the despoliation of the environment upon which all life on the planet depends. Achieving power at a time when the world must ramp back carbon emissions with all possible speed, Trump and the extreme right-wing ideological currents that he has helped harness and promote, both within and outside the Republican Party, have loudly and proudly declared themselves obedient puppets of fossil capitalism.

Trump is a long-time climate change denier, and has placed Myron Ebell , who has made a lucrative career flouting established climate science, at the head of his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan, which Obama was forced to pass using executive action as a result of the obdurate Republican climate know-nothings in Congress, is the linchpin of the U.

While it would take four years to withdraw from the Paris Accords , Trump and his cronies could effectively turn the agreement into a dead letter by reneging on the emissions reductions of roughly 25 percent below levels by to which Obama committed.

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Trump has not become the sole political leader on the planet to deny climate change because he is stupid or bad at science. As Naomi Klein pointed out in This Changes Everything, the well-funded denial movement is animated at bottom by the realization that genuinely and adequately addressing climate change would require a sweeping overhaul of the capitalist economic system that is the motive force behind overexploitation of the environment.

To cede rights to occupy that commons by cutting carbon emissions would be to lose the race to expand ceaselessly and to capitulate to competitive powers such as China or India, Brazil, etc. Liebreich points out that Trump has championed both shale oil and coal, although the success of the former is directly responsible for the eroding economic fortunes of the latter. For prominent advocates of green growth such as Al Gore and Nicholas Stern, the world is on an unstoppable pathway towards decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions.

As Sean Sweeney of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy demonstrates in a forthcoming paper, ecological modernizers seize on partial information about the global energy economy in a way that obscures the fact that we are in an age of rapidly expanding fossil fuel extraction. Among the trends fueling the optimism of ecological modernizers are a sharp drop in coal consumption, rising investment in renewable energy, slowing energy demand and improving energy intensity, and the leveling off of global carbon emissions.


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  6. Taken together, these trends are read to signify the decisive deterioration in the economics of fossil fuels as a result of the strengthening economic position of renewables. But, as Sweeney shows using data from organizations such as the International Energy Agency, this is a fundamental misreading. While coal production may be down in the U.

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    Similarly, natural gas use is increasing on a global scale, with energy generated from gas growing at a faster rate than that generated by renewables. Oil consumption is also increasing on a global scale. Wind and solar combined still only generate 4. Furthermore, according to the IEA, global energy demand will continue to rise by 30 percent between now and Improvements in energy efficiency, such as they are, will not reduce this growth in aggregate energy demand.


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    And despite a diminishing rate of global carbon emissions in recent years, emissions continue to increase, pushing atmospheric carbon concentrations and global warming across dangerous thresholds towards runaway climate chaos. While we might be witnessing a glut of fossil fuel production that has driven prices down to historic lows and made some industries, such as coal, uncompetitive in some nations, the fossil fuel era is emphatically not over.

    Ecological modernisation, social movements and renewable energy - Semantic Scholar

    Although renewable energy production has certainly been increasing, it has not been growing fast enough to displace fossil fuels, and it will not do so without decisive political action to shift the world towards a just transition. The struggle for democratic control over energy production, distribution, and use is a key element in this fight for a better, sustainable world.

    Given the grim situation in which the global movement for climate justice finds itself, what resources of hope and strategies of resistance may it turn to? First of all, the election of Trump should demonstrate the utter bankruptcy of neoliberalism in the environmental sphere. As writers such as Cornel West have argued , the age of Obama may be the last gasp of the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party. Although Obama did cave-in and cancel the Keystone XL pipeline in response to grassroots pressure, near the culmination of the election he quietly auctioned off thousands of acres of land for oil and gas drilling in national forests, opened up million acres for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and weakened the Endangered Species Act.

    If nothing else demolishes faith in the capacity and determination of neoliberals in the Democratic Party to address the climate crisis adequately, the refusal of both Hillary Clinton and Obama to condemn and bring to an end the violent persecution being meted out to Native American water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota should certainly do so.

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    But equally important will be struggles at scales where grassroots movements can win meaningful change over the next four years, as well as campaigns for systemic transformation in the longer term. Efforts such as the investigation of ExxonMobil for its decades of duplicity about climate change take on increasing importance with the ascent of a consummate media manipulator and industry shill like Trump. Yet while such efforts are important, they cannot be a substitute for campaigns that bring people in the U.

    There is some cause for hope in this regard. Struggles against extreme extraction projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline are part of a global movement to break free from fossil fuels that has grown massively as more and more people are endangered by and incensed over fossil capitalist infrastructure. This resistance has been met with heavy-handed repression, including the assassination of hundreds of environmental activists around the world.

    In the face of such violence, activists such as those gathered at Standing Rock have advanced defiant campaigns of nonviolent direct action. Their struggles have galvanized global opinion and helped foster forms of solidarity based on an awareness of a shared anti-racist struggle. If state-sanctioned violence against such movements is likely to increase under Trump, so will the movements pushing back courageously against it.

    The campaign for climate justice must be an integral part of a larger mass movement against racism, colonialism, and fossil capitalist ecocide that spans the globe.

    In addition to fighting back against Trump, partisans for climate justice must struggle in arenas where grassroots movements can achieve significant victories over the next four years. With climate criminals like Trump and the Republican Party in almost total control of the federal government and many state houses, the onus falls on progressive states and cities like California and New York City to decarbonize their economies. Again, there is some cause for hope here.