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The Price Is Wrong: Why the Market Will Never Solve the Climate Crisis

05.03.2024 12:30 PM

Event Summary

Lecture by Brett Christophers (Uppsala University), with interlocutor Jo Guldi (Emory University)

What if our understanding of capitalism and climate is back to front? What if the problem is not that transitioning to renewables is too expensive, but that saving the planet is not sufficiently profitable? This is the claim Brett Christophers makes in his new book, The Price Is Wrong: Why Capitalism Won't Save the Planet (Verso 2024). At this talk, Christophers showed that the global economy is moving too slowly toward sustainability because the return on green investment is too low. Today's consensus is that the key to curbing climate change is to produce green electricity and electrify everything possible. The main economic barrier in that project has seemingly been removed. But while prices of solar and wind power have tumbled, the golden era of renewables has yet to materialize. The problem is that investment is driven by profit, not price, and operating solar and wind farms remains a marginal business, dependent everywhere on the state's financial support. We cannot expect markets and the private sector to solve the climate crisis while the profits that are their lifeblood remain unappetizing. But there is an alternative to providing surrogate green profits through subsidies: to take energy out of the private sector's hands.

Presented by the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU), in affiliation with the Economic Planning and Democratic Politics project at the Neubauer Collegium.