Beyond the ‘Green Economy’: System change, not climate change?


The ‘green economy’ project claims to address the social, economic and ecological crises afflicting the world today, yet there appears to be too little elite consensus for it to be viable in the near future. Nicola Bullard and Tadzio Müller suggest that this absence of elite consensus renders the counter-hegemonic ‘climate justice’ project similarly weak, leading to a retreat from the global sphere of the (emerging) global climate justice movement. Yet on the ground there are strong and dynamic climate justice movements whose main challenge is to broaden their struggle beyond their current base and to create their own ‘globality’.

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    For excellent summary, see Candeias (2011).

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    For example by the Greens’ Sven Giegold in a talk at a conference in August 2011 in Freiburg:

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    See Reuters (2011).

  4. 4.

    No consensus on naming the movement ever emerged. Other names include the ‘counterglobalization movement’, the ‘global justice movement’, the ‘movement of movements’, while the most widely known name – the ‘anti-globalization movement’ – was rejected by those involved in this cycle of struggle. The best overviews can be found in Notes from Nowhere (2003) and Mertes (2004).

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    Full disclosure: both of us were heavily involved in the Copenhagen-mobilization.

  6. 6.

    Although not the topic of this article, the contradictions that Bolivia is trying to resolve in its efforts to create conditions for social and economic development without destroying nature point to the enormous challenge of constructing new approaches to development within the dominant political economy.

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Reviews climate justice movements, their potential and their limitations

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Bullard, N., Müller, T. Beyond the ‘Green Economy’: System change, not climate change?. Development 55, 54–62 (2012).

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  • Copenhagen COP 17
  • ecology
  • economy
  • social crisis
  • globality