Green Growth

Ideology, Political Economy and the Alternatives

Edited by Gareth Dale, Manu V. Mathai, and Jose A. Puppim de Oliveira


Bringing together leading scholars of environmental policy and political economy, the book assess the impact and viability of green growth and outlines the alternatives

The discourse of ‘green growth’ has recently gained ground in environmental governance deliberations and policy proposals. It is presented as a fresh and innovative agenda centred on the deployment of engineering sophistication, managerial acumen and market mechanisms to redress the environmental and social derelictions of the existing development model.

But the green growth project is deeply inadequate, whether assessed against criteria of social justice or the achievement of sustainable economic life upon a materially finite planet. This volume outlines three main lines of critique. First, it traces the development of the green growth discourse quaideology. It asks: what explains modern society’s investment in it, why has it emerged as a master concept in the contemporary conjuncture, and what social forces does it serve? Second, it unpicks and explains the contradictions within a series of prominent green growth projects. Finally, it weighs up the merits and demerits of alternative strategies and policies, asking the vital question: ‘if not green growth, then what?’

Author Bio

Gareth Dale teaches politics at Brunel University. His publications include books on Karl Polanyi, the GDR and Eastern Europe, and international migration.

Manu V. Mathai is assistant professor in the School of Development at Azim Premji University. He received his PhD in energy and environmental policy from the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware. He researches and teaches about the intersection of energy, environment and human development.

Jose A. Puppim de Oliveira teaches at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV-EAESP and FGV-EBAPE) as well as the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPEAD-UFRJ) and Fudan University, Shanghai. He is also a visiting research fellow at United Nations University (UNU-IIGH), Kuala Lumpur. He was assistant director and senior research fellow at the United Nations University (UNU-IAS) from August 2009 to 2015. His academic interests are in the political economy of sustainable development, particularly in patterns of environmental governance and in the implementation of global policies at the local level.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction - Gareth Dale, Manu V. Mathai and Jose A. Puppim de Oliveira
  • Part I: Contradictions of Green Growth
    • 1. Can Green Growth Really Work? A Reality Check that Elaborates on the True (Socio-)Economics of Climate Change - Ulrich Hoffmann
    • 2. What is the 'Green' in 'Green Growth'? - Larry Lohmann
    • 3. The How and for Whom of Green Governmentality - Adrian Parr
    • 4. Degrowth and the Roots of Neoclassical Economics - James Meadway
  • Part II: Case Studies
    • 5. Giving Green Teeth to the Tiger? A Critique of 'Green Growth' in South Korea - Bettina Bluemling and Sun-Jin Yun
    • 6. Lessons from the EU: Why Capitalism Cannot be Rescued from its Own Contradictions - Birgit Mahnkopf
    • 7. The Green Growth Trap in Brazil - Ricardo Abramovay
    • 8. Green Jobs to Promote Sustainable Development: Creating a Value Chain of Solid Waste Recycling in Brazil - Anne Posthuma and Paulo Sergio Muçouçah
    • 9. Trends of Social Metabolism and Environmental Conflict: A Comparison Between India and Latin America - Joan Martinez-Alier, Federico Demaria, Leah Temper and Mariana Walter
  • Part III: Emerging Alternatives?
    • 10. Beyond 'Development' and 'Growth': The Search for Alternatives in India Towards a Sustainable and Equitable World - Ashish Kothari
    • 11. Reconsidering Growth in the Greenhouse: The Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) as a Practical Strategy for the Twenty-First Century - Job Taminiau and John Byrne
    • 12. Alternatives to Green Growth? Possibilities and Contradictions of Self-Managed Food Production - Steffen Böhm, Maria Ceci Araujo Misoczky, David Watson and Sanjay Lanka


‘Essential reading for all of us who wish to see a greener future.’
Derek Wall, Green Party of England and Wales

‘Read this important book for a set of excellent critical guides to alternatives to our destructive and wasteful economic system.’
Barbara Harriss-White, Wolfson College, Oxford

‘Sustainable development has fallen victim to the ideological determinism of free market economics. Is “green growth” really a solution to sustainable development? This book gives insightful responses to this question.’
José Goldemberg, former Secretary of the Environment for Brazil

‘A courageous, critical, and desperately-needed critique.’
Jason W. Moore, author of Capitalism in the Web of Life

‘A significant and thoughtful intervention. The range and breadth of scholars and practitioners in this compendium make it indispensable.’
Mahesh Rangarajan, author of Nature and Nation

'[A]n exciting contribution to the literature on sustainable development and political economy.'
Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration

'A much welcomed contribution to the most significant debate of our time … Given the ‘do or die’ imperative radically to rewire our systems of production and consumption as quickly and justly as possible, Green Growth: Ideology, Political Economy, and the Alternatives is crucial reading for all.'
Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

'Green Growth offers us much insight and should be considered a significant contribution to the fields of sustainable development, political ecology and ecological economics.'
Strategic Analysis

'Contains thoughtful analyses.  The book's central message is that capitalism probably can't green itself.  Moreover, green growth is the latest ideological reshaping of the hegemony of capital. Recommended.'

'The volume is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the most pressing concern of our time.'
LSE Review of Books


Publication Date: 15 February 2016
336 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783604876
Hardback: 9781783604883
eBook ePub: 9781783604906
eBook PDF: 9781783604890
eBook Kindle: 9781783604913

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