Climate One: Reimagining Capitalism: Wealth, Power, and Patriarchy

Jul 1, 2020

Credit Provided by PRX

With inequality booming and climate change looming, is it time to rethink capitalism?

“We've come to the point where making more stuff in order to sell more stuff in order to make more money is breaking down,” says Hope Jahren, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Oslo. 

In her new book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here, Jahren questions whether a healthy climate can coexist with a consumption-driven economy. Rebecca Henderson from the Harvard Business School is more sanguine about the prospects for addressing climate in a capitalist economy

“We have a pricing and regulatory problem,” she says, adding that “we’re not charging the full cost of economic activity.” Henderson is the author of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire and believes capitalism can be harnessed to better serve society as a whole.

“It’s fairly clear to see how to fix it,” she says. “The only thing it requires is a massive cultural and political movement changing the rules that constrain capitalism – but as soon as we can do that, we’re done.” 

But is it really possible to support capitalism while fighting climate change? Norway seems like a country doing just that — or is it merely an enlightened hypocrite?

“It’s a sort of country of paradoxes,” says Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Correspondent for  The Financial Times. “On the one hand it’s Western Europe's biggest oil producer; on the other hand, it’s probably the biggest market in the world for electric cars.” 

That paradox is alive and well in Norway, according to Sveinung Rotevatn, the country’s Minister of Climate and Environment, who notes that “in Norwegian politics there’s one expression that you’ll hear more than almost any other expression and that is, ‘What is the new oil?’”

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, is supported exclusively by petroleum revenues but has allowed the country to electrify its economy and lead the way in clean-energy technologies.

“I’m happy to report that our emissions have been going down three years in a row now and are predicted to keep going down steadily,” says Rotevatn, “but my job as Minister of Climate and the Environment obviously is to implement more policies to make them go down even faster.”

Guests (Part 1):
Hope Jahren, Researcher, Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics, University of Oslo
Rebecca Henderson, John and Natty McArthur University Professor, Harvard University 

Guests (Part 2):
Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Correspondent, The Financial Times 
Sveinung Rotevatn, Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment

Tune-in Thursday, July 2 at 7:00 PM.

RELATED LINKS

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire
The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here
The Financial Times / Richard Milne
Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment