Malcolm Fairbrother: Explaining Environmental Successes and Failures

Datum: 5 juni 2024
Tid: 10:00-11:45

Venue: Institutet för framtidsstudier, Holländargatan 13, 4th floor, Stockholm, or online.

Research seminar with Malcolm Fairbrother, Professor of Sociology, researcher at the Institute for Futures Studies.

Register here

Why has the world failed so disastrously on climate change? Humanity has succeeded spectacularly, rather than failed, with respect to some other (previously quite frightening) environmental challenges. In this talk I will consider different environmental outcomes in comparative perspective, and conditions leading to better versus worse outcomes. I suggest that - contrary to various other arguments - the key difference between climate change and more successfully mitigated problems has been the degree to which concentrated industry interests have resisted regulation. Those exceptional political efforts to deny and delay have been due, in turn, to the uniquely unconvertible character of key industrial assets. To defend this claim, I will discuss cases in which, to varying degrees, industry did not deny and delay, and propose a model of stages by which industries respond to the threat (to them) of science showing they're causing environmental harm and therefore the likelihood of public regulation forcing them to change (or disappear). I finish with some reflections about prospects for shifting the political positions of different segments of business in ways that would allow us to stop climate change.

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