Why Capitalism Is Not Going To Save Us

The Price Is Wrong

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 renowned geographer Brett Christophers makes in his latest book, The Price Is Wrong. Tonight, he will discuss this premiss with Nicky Pouw, Crelis Rammelt and Valentina Carrera. Koen Haegens will read a column.

In his new book The Price Is Wrong, Brett Christophers argues 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.

About the speakers

Brett Christophers is a geographer at the University of Uppsala, Sweden and author of The New Enclosure (2018), Rentier Capitalism (2020) and Our Lives In Their Portfolio (2023).

Nicky Pouw is an economist at the University of Amsterdam and author of Wellbeing Economic: How and Why We Need to do Economics Differently (2020).

Crelis Rammelt is an ecologist at the University of Amsterdam and author of numerous papers on climate inequality and degrowth strategies.

Koen Haegens is feature writer for De Groene Amsterdammer.

Valentina Carraro (moderator) is a lecturer in digital geographies at the University of Amsterdam.

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