Green Capitalism and the Global Environmental Policy-Planning Network

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
J.P. SAPINSKI , Sociology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
The Rio+20 conference that took place in June 2012 confirmed the hegemony of green capitalism to address the global environmental crisis. Supporters of the “green economy” believe that putting a price on ecosystem services will allow to internalize environmental costs into the capitalist process of production. In the case of climate change, this involves the creation of greenhouse gases emissions trading markets. For their part, critics of green capitalism describe this process, including carbon trading, as the commodification of nature and as a new system of accumulation by dispossession that mostly benefits large corporations with little effect on actual greenhouse gas emissions.

Corporate-led policy-planning groups such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development or the Global Climate Forum have long been active to promote carbon markets and green capitalism. In this paper, I use a purposive sample of eleven such policy groups as an entry point to explore corporate involvement in the field of climate and environmental politics. At the level of organizations, the analysis of board interlocks reveals the structure of the environmental and climate policy network that links the corporate sector, the NGO sector and the transnational state, and emphasises the mediating role played by policy-planning groups. At the level of individuals, the linkages between members of the global corporate, political, and scientific elites involved in producing and mobilizing environmental knowledge suggest the emergence of a green capitalist class faction, whose ascendancy nevertheless remains highly uncertain.