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Edited by Peter Dauvergne
Chapter 20: The Political Ecology of Globalization
Peter Newell This chapter seeks to contribute to debates about globalization and the environment by showing how the social forces that are central to contemporary capitalist globalization are also decisive shapers of environmental outcomes. The primacy of intensifying accumulation on a global scale creates critical ecological and political challenges, notably whether viable accumulation strategies can be identified that are less resource intensive or may even profit from reduced resource use, or whether environmental problems such as climate change create a crisis of capitalism because of its inability to respect ecological limits to growth.1 This context is critical for understanding the “nature” and conduct of global environmental politics and the effectiveness of existing structures of global environmental governance. More specifically, it affects our understanding of whether such structures are capable of reshaping the global economy and steering it onto a more sustainable footing, or whether their role is more likely to advance and deepen capitalist globalization. In such a rendition, global environmental governance, understood conventionally as what international environmental regimes do, is dislodged from a position of primacy in the analysis in favor of an account that attempts to “read” ecologically and socially the organization of the global political economy: the relations of power that create and sustain it and the ecological and social consequences of this way of ordering things. While such an account has implications for the orthodox study of global environmental governance since it problematizes liberal understandings of the state and the role of (international) law, its main...
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