Education, Sustainability

What is “Green Capitalism” and does it really work?

Fill in the blank: Capitalism is…

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Oct 22, 2022

Over the last few years, the climate crisis has really been brought to the forefront. While many speculate that we have less than a dozen years left of “easy” living on the planet, others claim that it’s already too late, and we may be far too deep in the disaster. But one thing that has risen, alongside temperatures and sea levels, is the awareness and anxieties around the climate.


Along with the rise in climate awareness, greenwashing has gone hand in hand with capitalism. Sustainability has evolved into a commodity in and of itself, one that can be traded, sold, and managed like any other. As a result, phrases like “green capitalism” have been developed to describe how capitalism may help us overcome our current environmental and climate concerns.


Green initiatives and strategies are said to reduce consumption of energy and materials, which could improve production and supply chains. These tactics, however, are essentially null because capitalism is inherently linked to consumerism and consumption, making it impossible to be a viable solution.


Capitalism, in essence, is the movement and exchange of capital. Capital, according to Marx, moves in a circular motion, so money and growth, and continuity, are vital for capitalism. The key argument is that money and growth are at the heart of capitalism, which runs counter to sustainability and the “green agenda.”  But those who want to keep things the same amid a capitalist-caused ecological disaster find appeal in the notion that capitalism can be “greened.”


But what really is “green capitalism?”


What is green capitalism?

Green capitalism is a strand of capitalism that believes in the coexistence of a growth model of capitalism and the finite natural resources of our planet. This is mostly pertaining to the energy industry, though most corporations and companies are trying to cash in on the trend.


The discourse encourages us to choose the “better” or “correct” option as customers. Although we are urged to think that choosing a different brand or different “greener” product will save the earth, green consumer culture is ultimately a culture of consumption, and we are not urged to spend less money or avoid products altogether.


According to this philosophy of mindful consumption, many companies and brands have discovered that selling sustainable products can actually be incredibly profitable. The argument is that even when we want to believe that we are making more environmentally responsible decisions, we are still a part of the capitalist economy, which is a contributing factor to our environmental disaster.


Contributing to the crisis, absurdly short celebrity private jet rides. But of course, Mark Zuckerberg thinks VR could fight climate crisis.


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