climate action cafe

A space for discussion and analysis within the global climate movement

20 Theses against green capitalism

Posted by KM on December 5, 2008

No to false solutions! Climate Justice Now!

by Tadzio Mueller and Alexis Passadakis

1. The current world economic crisis marks the end of the neoliberalphase of capitalism.‘Business as usual’ (financialisation, deregulation, privatisation…) is thus no longer an option: new spaces of accumulation and types of political regulation will need to be found by governments and corporations to keep capitalism going.

2. Alongside the economic and political as well as energy crises, there is another crisis rocking the world: the biocrisis, the result of a suicidal mismatch between the ecological life support system that guarantees our collective human survival and capital’s need for constant growth.

3. This biocrisis is an immense danger to our collective survival, but like all crises it also presents us, social movements, with a historic opportunity: to really go for capitalism’s exposed jugular, its need for unceasing, destructive, insane growth.

4. Of the proposals that have emerged from global elites, the only one that promises to address all these crises is the ‘Green New Deal’. This is not the cuddly green capitalism 1.0 of organic agriculture and D.I.Y. windmills, but a proposal for a new ’green’ phase of capitalism that seeks to generate profits from the piecemeal ecological modernisation of certain key areas of production (cars, energy, etc.)

5. Green capitalism 2.0 cannot solve the biocrisis (climate change and other ecological problems such as the dangerous reduction of biodiversity), but rather tries to profit from it. It therefore does not fundamentally alter the collision course on which any market-driven economy sets humanity with the biosphere.

6. This isn’t the 1930s. Then, under the pressure of powerful social movements, the old ‘New Deal’ redistributed power and wealth downwards. The ‘New New’ and ‘Green New Deal’ discussed by Obama, green parties all around the world, and even some multinationals is more about welfare for corporations than for people.

7. Green Capitalism won’t challenge the power of those who actually produce most greenhouse gases: the energy companies, airlines and carmakers, industrial agriculture, but will simply shower them with more money to help maintain their profit rates by making small ecological changes that will be too little, too late.

8. Because globally, working people have lost their power to bargain and demand rights and decent wages, in a green capitalist setup, wages will probably stagnate or even decline to offset the rising costs of ‘ecological modernisation’.

9. The ‘green capitalist state’ will be an authoritarian one. Justified by the threat of ecological crisis it will ‘manage’ the social unrest that will necessarily grow from the impoverishment that lies in the wake of rising cost of living (food, energy, etc.) and falling wages.

10. In green capitalism, the poor will have to be excluded from consumption, pushed to the margins, while the wealthy will get to ‘offset’ their continued environmentally destructive behaviour, shopping and saving the planet at the same time.

11. An authoritarian state, massive class inequalities, welfare given to corporations: from the point of view of social and ecological emancipation, green capitalism will be a disaster that we can never recover from. Today, we have a chance to get beyond the suicidal madness of constant growth. Tomorrow, by the time we’ve all gotten used to the new green regime, that chance may be gone.

12. In green capitalism, there is a danger that established, mainstream environmental groups will come to play the role that trade unions played in the Fordist era: acting as safety valves to make sure that demands for social change, that our collective rage remain within the boundaries set by the needs of capital and governments.

13. Albert Einstein defined ‘insanity’ as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In the past decade, in spite of Kyoto, not only has the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased – so, too, has the rate of increase. Do we simply want more of the same? Wouldn’t that be insane?

14. International climate agreements promote false solutions that are often more about energy security than climate change. Far from solving the crisis, emissions trading, CMD, joint implementation, offsets and soon, all provide a political shield for the continued production of greenhouse gases with impunity.

15. For many communities in the global South, these false solutions (agrofuels, ‘green deserts’, CDM-projects) are by now often a greater threat than climate change itself.

16. Real solutions to the climate crisis won’t be dreamt up by governments or corporations. They can only emerge from below, from globally networked social movements for climate justice.

17. Such solutions include: no to free trade, no to privatisation, no to flexible mechanisms. Yes to food sovereignty, yes to degrowth, yes to radical democracy and to leaving the resources in the ground.

18. As an emerging global climate justice movement, we must fight two enemies: on one hand climate change and the fossilistic capitalism that causes it, and on the other, an emergent green capitalism that won’t stop it, but will limit our ability to do so.

19. Of course, climate change and free trade aren’t the same thing, but: the Copenhagen-protocol will be a central regulatory instance of green capitalism just as the WTO was central to neoliberal capitalism. So how to relate to it? The Danish group KlimaX argues: A good deal is better than no deal – but no deal is way better than a bad one.

20. The chance that governments will come up with a ‘good deal’ in Copenhagen is slim to none. Our aim must therefore be to demand agreement on real solutions. Failing that: to forget Kyoto, and shut down Copenhagen! (whatever the tactic)

By Tadzio Mueller and Alexis Passadakis (12/2008). Alexis is a member of attac Germany’s coordinating council, Tadzio a part of the Turbulence editorial collective ( They are both active in the emerging climate justice movement, and can be reached at againstgreencapitalism (at)


20 Responses to “20 Theses against green capitalism”

  1. nbo said

    paragraphs 10 & 11 are illustrated by jean-christophe rufin’s novel “globalia”, highly recommended for reading, it’s the very update to “1984” which has become outdated in its post-war-setting. I think the most important point to understand about green capitalism is the policy that there will not be enough for all to share. the green capitalist vision will apply to elites only. it is a roadmap to create zones of inclusion and exclusion in a way we haven’t seen yet.

    thanks for the 20 theses, well done.

    bye, nbo

  2. […] discussion is ‘Green Capitalism and Alternatives’ and the readings are available at and […]

  3. Gregory Garrett Bishop said

    OK, This is crazy talk. Ya’ll are unhinged. First of all there’s slim to no evidence of actual climate change. Secondly the nutty leftist crazy talk ya’ll are engaging in sounds like something out of Stalin’s Russia. Not exactly a environmental paradise. Finally the anti-capitalist talk makes it sound like you refuse to acknowledge the power of free enterprise and the free market which has done more to improve the state of mankind than any other event in the history of mankind. If you want to nudge people into not using fossil fuels, I’m all for that. Taxes on fossil fuels and a huge new nuclear program COMPLETE WITH REPROCESSING to eliminate all waste is really the only alternative that will let people maintain or improve their current life style. That’s because of energy density. 337 solar collector the size of a small house are required to generate a single megawatt of electricity WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING. A single nuclear power plant can generate 300 times that much power – continuously. We’re not going to cover the planet with solar collectors or wheat or windmills, so nuclear is the only way to go. If you are opposed to letting people maintain or improve their life styles, you’ll be fought tooth and nail (as you should be). The psudo-commie leftist crazy talk doesn’t do your cause any good.

  4. NM said

    First I just gotta respond to crazy Greg above. If you went to a doctor and he said you have cancer, you may want a second opinion which makes sense. You go to another doctor, same thing…cancer. You go to a fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. Then the tenth one says, hell no you don’t have cancer! Is that the one you’re going to believe? Then you look at his bank statement and tobacco companies bought him a dozen yachts…that guy is just lying to get rich! Same with crazy right blogs funded by coal industry, which is throwing all their money into this because they see their polluting industry in death throes. 92% of climate scientists who agree that climate change is happening. So listen to 9 doctors who tell you to take medicine and you can live, or happily die listening to that last doctor? By the way, living in a gated community driving an hour to work in an air-conditioned cubicle with no daylight is not an improvement in lifestyle, its just a sad way to be, america.

    Second, in regards to the blog. Seems simple to merely apply anarchist rhetoric to something because it has ‘capitalism’ in its title. Perhaps instead of railing against all the things wrong with the world we should promote solutions. Your solutions are: “Yes to food sovereignty, yes to degrowth, yes to radical democracy and to leaving the resources in the ground.” So why can’t capital be used to produce these solutions? Greenling is an example of a localized organic food distribution company in Texas that is doing great. Instead of degrowth, redefine growth to mean more biodiversity. Use the ‘triple bottom line’ so that corporations become resource stewards instead of resource thieves. And ‘leave the resources in the ground’ is just dumb…whatcha gonna eat?

    Your blog is an example of why people don’t listen to anarchist rhetoric. You jump to far too quickly. We need to move from where we are to where we want to be. We can’t just ‘smash it up’ and hope things fall nicely into place.

  5. […] The build up to this years UN conference on Climate change, the COP-15 in Copenhagen, was huge. Both mainstream and alternative media were abuzz with predictions and discussions on the conference and the ,almost obligatory, counter-mobilisation. Many months were spent deliberating over whether to shut the conference down or try and enter (with the latter winning out). Would this, as Naomi Klein  argued, be the culmination of the alter-globalisation movement? Would this be another Seattle? Would we witness a fully formed social movement to challenge an emerging round of capitalist accumulation based upon responses to ecological, economic and social crisis (for a brief outline of this read Tadzio’s Mueller and Alexis Passadakis 20 theses on Green capitalism)? […]

  6. Mohammed AL-Saedi said

    As always the fact speaks itself, U.S criminal foreign policy is taking new shape. South Korea regime must understand that U.S is interested and is propelling into internal conflict in the Korea in the both sides, in the north and in the south, and all it need is a puppet regime, which is driven by a criminal America, to orchestrate a tension that endangering the peace in the region that U.S wanted to dominate. However, U.S as a criminal-capitalist state is no longer able to achieve such non achievable goal since its military capabilities are wrecked.

    There is only one way and its the better way that the regime in the south can take and thats the peaceful approach with accordance of the historic June 15 joint declaration the north and the south recognized.

  7. […] 20 Theses against green capitalism « climate action cafe5 Dec 2008 … This is not the cuddly green capitalism 1.0 of organic agriculture and D.I.Y. windmills, but a proposal for a new ‘green’ phase of ……/20-theses-against-green-capitalism/ – En caché – Similares […]

  8. green energy options…

    […]20 Theses against green capitalism « climate action cafe[…]…

  9. Anonymous said

    the solution to our current imbalance of systems is obviously the right combination of systems….what we need is another meeting of all the socio/political/economic systems…gather members of each existing ideology…let them work each other over until the come up the the ecogreen transcendent apple pie solution….we need to abandon current earthy mud slinging here we go loopdy loop process…identify the four ideologies and work at implenting a multi ideology system……green, red, white and blue… or green capitalism, ecoblue socialism, libitarian red, and some other made hay purple creative solution organizaiton erase all unnecessary regulations and let nature take its course….

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