EVENT: Breaking the Habits of Economic Growth: an Imperative for a Low Carbon Transformation

Breaking the Habits of Economic Growth: an Imperative for a Low Carbon Transformation

In this lecture, I will argue that a century of lived experience in the political economy of expansive capitalism in the rich countries of the world has led to a habituation to not only high levels of materials and resources used in everyday practices, but to a habituation to expansion itself. Neither energy and climate change theorists nor policy makers have engaged with the culture of capitalism. Mainstream policy is putting all of its effort into making sustainability happen within an expansionist frame. 

The record shows that several decades of efforts to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in growth economics such as those of the OECD countries have not been successful, while at the same time rapidly expanding economies elsewhere are using energy and emitting carbon in step with their economic growth. 

Using examples from home energy, transport and food, I will articulate the relationship between the politics of expansion and the formation of high-energy habits at the level of family and household. It will elaborate a theory of habits and reflect on the politics of unlocking low energy habits. A transformative policy will entail a reassessment of a macro-economic framing which assumes that growth and markets will do the strategic restructuring for us. It will involve support for emerging community-based actions around the world, both real and virtual, that are engaged forming collaborative practices and reestablishing shared ownership. 

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UC Merced, SSM 317
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 12:00pm