- MAKING SENSE OF THE GREEN ECONOMY
- Authors: Federico Caprotti; Ian Bailey
Pages: 195 - 200
Abstract: This special issue editorial explores potential research interfaces between human geography and the rapidly unfolding concept and practices of the “green economy”. The article outlines a range of critical issues about the green economy that are particularly pertinent and suited to geographical analysis. The first concerns questions around the construction of the green economy concept and critical questioning of current, largely hegemonic neoliberal, growth‐focused and technocentric definitions of the green economy. The second broaches the spatial complexities of green economic transitions, while the third discusses the need for critical appraisal of the logics and mechanisms of governance and transition that see the green economy as a key mechanism for economic, social and environmental change. The fourth focuses on the crucial issue of micro‐level and individual practices and behaviour, and on links between individual behaviour and wider economic‐environmental governance and economic systems. Finally, the article discusses the need for scholars to engage in imaginative consideration of alternatives to current, growth‐focused paradigms and conceptualizations of the green economy.
- THE GREEN ECONOMY, SUSTAINABILITY TRANSITIONS AND TRANSITION REGIONS: A
CASE STUDY OF BOSTON
- Authors: David Gibbs; Kirstie O'Neill
Pages: 201 - 216
Abstract: This article is focused upon exploring the development of the green economy in particular locations, with the aim of identifying why some cities and regions have been successful in engendering green growth. To date we have little idea where the green economy is developing, nor much insight, beyond anecdotal evidence, into why certain cities and regions appear to be more successful than others in this regard. We position our analysis within the context of research on socio‐technical transitions that has theorized the potential shift to a more sustainable economy. We review the literature on sustainability transitions and the development of the multi‐level perspective encompassing niches, regimes and landscapes. However, most research into socio‐technical transitions has not given adequate consideration to the influence of places and spatial scale in these transition processes, and we therefore critique the socio‐technical transitions literature from a geographical perspective. In this article we are interested in four key questions. What role does the enabling and facilitative state play in these cities and regions? What new institutional forms and governance structures are being developed? How do actors in particular cities and regions construct their green vision, and how do they encourage other actors to buy‐in to this vision? How are links across levels and spatial scales developed to connect niches with the regime? We address these through a focus upon the Boston city‐region in the USA, drawing upon both primary and secondary research material. We utilize this case study example to re‐examine and re‐theorize work on sustainability transitions from a spatial perspective.
- ‘IT'S ALL A QUESTION OF BUSINESS’: INVESTMENT IDENTITIES,
NETWORKS AND DECISION‐MAKING IN THE CLEANTECH ECONOMY
- Authors: Lucien Georgeson; Federico Caprotti, Ian Bailey
Pages: 217 - 229
Abstract: Cleantech has emerged in the last decade as a major new investment sector at the forefront of the green economy. It responds to the need for innovative technologies to combat the impact of global environmental, climate and resource trends. Focusing on the cleantech sector, this article explores the central importance of relationality within the financial domain of the green economy. The central aim of this article is to deepen understandings of the operation of cleantech investment by examining the decision‐making processes of cleantech actors, how these are influenced by (and influence) cleantech investment networks, and the relationships between these factors and the macro‐level drivers and discourses focused on the cleantech sector. A relational economic geography approach is used in conjunction with other frameworks (spanning the cultural, structural and actor‐network dimensions of cleantech investment) to investigate: how cleantech investors define the sector; the macro‐ and micro‐level drivers of cleantech investment; and how cleantech networks form and operate to create and disseminate cleantech discourses and to generate the mutual trust and information sharing needed to secure cleantech investments. In so doing, the article seeks to shed greater light on the micro‐level processes contributing to the creation and growth of cleantech investment markets as an essential catalyst and component of the green economy.
- PRACTICING THE CULTURAL GREEN ECONOMY: WHERE NOW FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SOCIAL
- Authors: Stewart Barr
Pages: 231 - 243
Abstract: Debates concerning the development of the green economy necessarily focus on “upstream” issues that underpin the re‐structuring of national and regional economies through the lenses of financial, institutional and regulatory change. However, the growing interest in the cultural green economy requires a re‐scaling of debates surrounding the links that occur in complex socio‐technical systems, notably between individual consumers, social units and the architectures of the developing green economy. This necessitates a research and policy agenda that is attentive to both the complexities of such interactions (between structures, processes and practices) and the imperative to foster change in practices within wider society. This article explores the ways in which environmental social scientists have examined and evidenced these issues, arguing that two major barriers still exist for creating adequate understandings and opportunities for change. First, the overt focus on the individual consumer as a unit of measurement and political attention has stifled debate concerning the ways in which environmentally related social practices have developed in association with wider economic contexts. In this way, environmental social scientists have often failed to make the connections between individuals, practices and the economic system. Second, in adopting a largely individualistic perspective, environmental social scientists have tended to focus their attention on incrementalist and narrowly defined views of what ecological citizenship might look like and constitute in the green economy. The article therefore argues that environmental social scientists need to constructively engage in a new inter‐disciplinary dialogue about the role, purpose and ethics of citizen participation in developing and sustaining the green economy in an age of climate change and potential resource scarcity.
- GREEN GROWTH OR ECOLOGICAL COMMODIFICATION: DEBATING THE GREEN ECONOMY IN
THE GLOBAL SOUTH
- Authors: Ed Brown; Jonathan Cloke, Danielle Gent, Paul H. Johnson, Chloe Hill
Pages: 245 - 259
Abstract: This article examines recent institutional thinking on the green economy and the implications of official understandings and structuration of a green economy for the global South. Assertions about the transformative potential of a green economy by many international actors conceals a complexity of problems, including the degree to which the green economy is still based on old fossil economies and technical fixes, and the processes through which the green economy ideation remains subject to Northern economic and technical dominance. The article places the intellectual roots of the green economy within a broader historical context and suggests some ways the strategic economic and ideological interests of the global North remain key drivers of green‐economy thinking. The analysis is substantiated through two illustrative Latin American examples: the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and green economy initiatives in Brazil. These suggest that, if the green economy is to address global challenges effectively, it must be conceptualized as more than a bolt‐on to existing globalizing capitalism and encompass more critical understandings of the complex socio‐economic processes through which poverty is produced and reproduced and through which the global environment is being transformed, a critique which also applies to mainstream discourses of sustainable development.
- TECHNOCRATIC NORMS, POLITICAL CULTURE AND CLIMATE CHANGE GOVERNANCE
- Authors: Janelle Knox‐Hayes; Jarrod Hayes
Pages: 261 - 276
Abstract: In this article we analyse the challenges of multi‐scalar governance within climate change as an element of the green economy. Specifically, we focus on the ways in which global neoliberal discourses of governance predicated on technocratic norms interface with regional, national, and subnational contexts. The goal of the analysis is to develop a better understanding of how purportedly universalistic prescriptions for addressing climate change developed at the global level – the financialization of carbon emissions through managed markets – interact with local political economic cultures. We argue local political economic cultures play a crucial role in governing how local economies operate and that universalistic policy prescriptions are unlikely to succeed if they do not incorporate flexibility to take account of unique local economic practices. To support this argument, we examine the dynamics of climate governance through the creation of emissions markets in three different cultural contexts: the European Union, Australia, and the state of California in the United States. In each, we find varying interactions between global technocratic narratives and scale‐level political and cultural structures. These context specific interactions in turn contribute to different governance and economic outcomes with respect to climate change.
- THE GREEN ECONOMY AND POST‐GROWTH REGIMES: OPPORTUNITIES AND
CHALLENGES FOR ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY
- Authors: Christian Schulz; Ian Bailey
Pages: 277 - 291
Abstract: While mainstream economic geography is doing increasing research on green manufacturing and services, with a few notable exceptions, its predominant conceptual approaches to emerging modes of economic orientation continue to examine economic transitions somewhat unreflexively within the context of traditional growth paradigms. The aim of this article is to explore and critically examine neoliberal discourses on the green economy and smart growth by exploring contributions to debates on green economics proposed by ideas linked to post‐growth economies. Based on studies by scholars such as Tim Jackson and Serge Latouche, the article examines the contours of debates on post‐growth, décroissance (de‐growth) and prosperity without growth. We begin by examining growth debates and existing contributions by economic and other geographers to the exploration of alternatives to conventional growth‐centred economics. We then identify some emergent spatial facets of post‐growth transitions and utilize these to explore potential research topics and opportunities for empirical and conceptual contributions by economic geographers to academic and societal debates on economic transitions and post‐growth paradigms. Particular attention is paid to approaches currently discussed in economic geography, such as socio‐technical transition studies.
- ON LANGUAGE AND CARTOGRAPHY: FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON THE CONTRIBUTION OF
GUNNAR OLSSON TO GEOGRAPHICAL THOUGHT‐AND‐ACTION A BOOK REVIEW
- Authors: Ulf Strohmayer
Pages: 293 - 297