Carbon Capitalism, Climate Capitalism, Energy Democracy2 min read
RC02 Economy and Society (host committee)
Although the scientific consensus on causes and implication of global warming is well established, the climate crisis has provoked three distinct political-economic projects, rooted in differing class fractions and social interests, which currently vie for hegemony at different levels and regions of the world-system. Carbon capitalism is a project of ‘business as usual’ (in the Stern report’s terminology), with efficiency improvements (and possible sunsetting of coal) but no major changes to the political ecology of contemporary capitalism. Climate capitalism proposes the ecological modernization of the energy base of capitalism, by redirecting flows of capital away from fossil fuels, and toward more climatically benign sources of energy including hydropower, solar, wind and nuclear. The first two projects are capital-centric: they leave the class structure of capitalism untouched, including the concentration of economic power in the hands of a relatively small group of major investors, executives and corporate directors. In contrast, energy democracy finds its social base in environmental and other progressive movements, including sections of the labour movement. It mandates a dual power shift, from fossil-fuel power to renewables (decarbonization) and from corporate oligarchy to public, democratic control of economic decisions (democratization). This session welcomes papers exploring the sociology of these projects, singly or in combination, especially analyses that foreground issues of political economy and political ecology.