Green economy: a new stage of capitalist expansion

In Science and Society

Si tiene a Ventotene dal 22 al 26 settembre la seconda edizione di Isophos – International School on Organics Photovoltaics, la Scuola Internazionale sul Fotovoltaico Organico organizzata dal Polo per il Fotovoltaico a Celle Organiche del Lazio Chose (Centre for Hybrid and Organic Solar Energy) e dall’Università di Roma “Tor Vergata”.

Except instead of proposing to examine the structural cause of these crises, i.e. the capitalist and productivist civilization pattern, they are claiming that these multiple crises can be “solved” by resorting to the same market rationales and the same scientific/technological and production patterns that have led us straight into the current situation. Obviously, more of the same can only make these crises deeper.

This summit should have been called to face the deep imbalances existing between human beings and nature, brought about by the capitalist system and productivism, dogmatic belief in the possibility of limitless growth, and anthropocentrism, which has made the human being lord and master of everything on the planet. To face these multiple crises it is indispensable, among others, to take critical stock of what has happened in the past twenty years, since the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Instead, they have decided to “look ahead” by supplementing and renovating an exhausted and misleading “sustainable development” with a new political-conceptual device they call “green economy.” This is a deceptive term that seeks to take advantage of the fact that “green” is usually identified with a more ecological economy so as to hide the real agenda behind the concept.

What is really being sought in this green corporative economy is to deepen the commodification, privatization, and financialization of nature and its functions. It is the reaffirmation of full control of the complete biosphere by the economy. With such an apparently innocuous term like “green economy” they are expecting to submit the vital cycles of nature to the rules of the market and dominance by technology.

Taking the logic of neoliberalism to its extremes, they argue that the fundamental reason for our finding ourselves in the current environmental crisis is that a large proportion of the goods of the planet have no owner, hence no one to care for them. The solution to that, according to this way of thinking, would be to set a price for every one of nature’s goods, processes and so-called “services.” Once everything has a price tag, new bonds could be issued and negotiated in the international financial marketplace. To push this “green economy,” markets are being developed for carbon and environmental services, in particular the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) schemes, which are set to be enlarged to include all of biodiversity, agriculture, and water. This leads to the destruction of indigenous and rural-community lifestyles and is de facto expropriation of their territories, even when they are given formal property deeds to keep.

This is a new private confinement of the commons, of the functions of nature, being appropriated the way capitalism, from the start, appropriated human labor for its accumulation and expansion process.

All of this is intended to place the future of the planet in the hands of banks and other financial operators, in the hands of those, precisely, primarily responsible for the deep financial crisis that has put millions more on the dole, has evicted millions of families from their homes, has stolen the savings and pensions of workers all over the world, and has deepened the obscene inequalities characterizing neoliberal globalization.

With the same scientific technological pattern of dominance, submission, and exploitation of nature that has overtaken the planet’s capacity to regenerate, they intend to affirm and introduce high-risk technologies such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, geoengineering, and nuclear energy, which are deepening these appropriation processes. These are even presented as “technological solutions” to the ecological limitations of the planet, intended to create an “artificial nature,” and also as the solution to the many disasters we are facing. This would make it unnecessary to change their root causes.

Aware that it is all becoming difficult to believe, the new “green economy” promoters have added other qualifications to the euphemism and are offering “inclusive green economy,” “doubly green,” and other glass beads of the same kind.

The states of the emerging economies and other states of the South, instead of making social justice by confronting capitalist accumulation and outrageous luxury, think they can find a solution in so-called “green growth,” which feeds into the myth of endless development and growth.

These negotiations clearly show, once again, how the United Nations system and the entire process are being increasingly controlled by corporations and transnational banks, who will be the main beneficiaries of “green economy.”

The idea of establishing a new structure to manage this green corporative economy globally is simply inadmissible. Setting up this new “institutional framework” is one of the main goals of the United Nations Conference. The plan is for the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), which has been the main promoter of the commodification of nature through its Green Economy Initiative, to become a new United Nations agency responsible for “global environmental governance.”