Our new book Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction has just been published. Based on research that Daniel Nyberg and I have been conducting over the last 6 years, the book explores the complex relationship that the corporate world has with climate change and the central role corporations play in shaping political and social responses to the climate crisis.
In the book, we explore the different processes through which corporations engage with climate change. The principal message is that despite the need for dramatic economic and political change, corporate capitalism continues to rely on the maintenance of ‘business as usual’. As outlined in this short summary in The Conversation this involves the myth that ‘green’ capitalism is a viable response to the climate crisis. This response enables the incorporation of critique and the maintenance of corporate capitalism despite the dire environmental consequences. Continue reading New book on Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations
In her latest book, This Changes Everything (2014), Canadian writer and activist Naomi Klein argues that unrestrained capitalism is at the root of the climate crisis and that the global response to climate change has, thus far, been shaped by wealth and power.
Earlier in the month I had the chance to speak with Naomi Klein on the eve of her appearance at the Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The transcript of our discussion is set out below and you can listen to the podcast of our discussion here. Continue reading Naomi Klein talks about Capitalism Vs. the Climate
Recently I helped organise a social media training event at my university. The idea was to expose academics to different social media platforms, highlight the advantages of social media for academic work, and also teach them the basics of blogging and Twitter. Afterwards I was interviewed about how and why I use social media in my climate change research. Having been seduced by the attractions of social media some years ago, I’m now very much a social media advocate. Anyway, here’s my response to some of the interview questions re my own social media use:
Continue reading Using social media to turbo-charge your research!
Earlier in the year I was asked to talk at a Politics in the Pub event on the subject of ‘How Effective Is the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement in Speeding up Action on Climate Change?’. I shared the stage with Blair Palese, Australian CEO of 350.org, and it was an opportunity to talk about how divestment might contribute to a more effective political response to the climate crisis. Below is an abridged version of my talk and you can view a video of the presentation at the bottom of this post.
Continue reading Fossil Fuel Divestment as Effective Climate Change Action
Writing about climate change often requires some type of visual reference particularly given the way our eyes are drawn to the visual in social media settings and more generally in public debate. But how do you visually represent the human-induced climate disruption we are now living through? As Naomi Klein has demonstrated so powerfully, climate change ‘changes everything’! And yet despite its profound impacts, it is a phenomenon that is also diffuse across space and time.
This was an issue that I confronted late last year when Daniel Nyberg and I completed the manuscript for our forthcoming book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction. With the draft manuscript sent off to the publishers, we then agonised over the book cover design. An early offer from the publishers presented a somewhat anodyne image of suited business people on an escalator (the sort of thing one sees everyday on management textbook covers) – probably relevant in that context but nothing really about climate change. Continue reading Representing Climate Change?
Our new book Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction will be released in both paperback and hardback in late September. You can view the website for the book here.
Based on research that Daniel Nyberg and I have been conducting over the last 6 years, the book explores the complex relationship that the corporate world has with climate change and examines the central role of corporations in shaping political and social responses to the climate crisis. Continue reading Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations out in September
On May 1, the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) at the University of Sydney Business School hosted an event in collaboration with the UN Global Compact, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and WWF Australia on the Road to Paris and Science Based Targets Initiatives.
This forum launched the initiative ‘Science Based Targets‘ – which aims to encourage businesses to set new, ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in the run up to the COP21 talks in Paris later this year. Formed as a response to the urgent call by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to decarbonise the economy, the initiative adopts a scientific approach to climate action in line with the latest IPCC report, and highlights the central role that business must play in responding to the climate threat by reducing GHG emissions in line with the best climate science. Continue reading Road to Paris and Science Based Targets Initiatives
Last Monday Greens Leader Christine Milne delivered a landmark speech at the University of Sydney on the next steps for global warming policy around the world and Australia’s role as we approach the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris this year.
I participated in the event as one of the respondents to Senator Milne’s address and was asked to comment on ‘what role business should play in effective climate change response?’ My response is set out below, but one theme that emerged in the discussion is whether business has an ethical responsibility in its response to climate change? I argue that it does, and this excellent article by David Roberts today highlights the broader way in which climate change is being viewed as a moral imperative and why this frightens those opposed to action on climate change. This an issue business seems unprepared to deal with, but as the climate crisis worsens and its moral implications become more apparent, it is one businesses need to increasingly engage with. Continue reading Climate change as a moral issue for business?
A common theme in popular business discourse is the demise of bureaucracy and the emergence of a new, more liberating post-bureaucratic era. While subject to variation, common themes in this genre include organisations becoming less insular, hierarchical and rule-bound and more change-focused, enterprising and collaborative. Indeed, the persona of the manager as leader is a recurring image. A ‘high-flyer’, familiar with consulting and MBA techniques, experienced in a wide range of industry settings and jumping from one corporate turnaround to the next.
But as is so often the case in claims of fundamental change, there is good reason to be sceptical about the demise of bureaucracy and the birth of this ‘new’ 21st century organisational ideal. In our recent book Management as Consultancy: Neo-bureaucracy and the Consultant Manager, Andrew Sturdy, Nick Wylie and I argue that while large organisations are changing, there are also strong resonances with the past. Based on an extensive analysis of Australian and British corporations, we find that managers are becoming less explicitly hierarchical and more market and change oriented. Continue reading The Age of Neo-bureaucracy
Recently, the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) at the University of Sydney hosted a visit by Ben Caldecott, Director of the Stranded Assets programme at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford. During his visit, Ben presented a number of very well-attended talks on the issue of fossil fuels as stranded assets and the implications for Australian investments in coal mining. Continue reading Fossil Fuels as Stranded Assets?
It’s hard to know how to approach the phenomenon that is Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate. In case you’ve been living in a remote cave for the last six months, this is the book that came out last September to rave reviews in the world’s major newspapers, which has been serialised on the front page of The Guardian over several days, and which has both left-wing commentators and even some conservatives singing its praises. There is also a documentary film coming out to accompany the book and sell out presentations by the author around the world linked to climate activist events. So this book comes with huge media fanfare and expectation. Continue reading Book Review: This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate
The politics of climate change is becoming ever more complex. Just last week in Australia we have witnessed the spectacle of our major political parties voting against moves to prohibit coal and CSG mining on agricultural land; one of the country’s most influential conservative radio commentators supporting a Greens’ politician in her efforts to limit fossil-fuel developments on farming land, and the conservative NSW government approving a massive expansion of coal mining in the Hunter Valley (which will include the relocation of an entire village!). Continue reading The Future of Fossil Fuels in a Climate-Challenged World
The following is an extract from our forthcoming book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction (Cambridge University Press) - out in bookshops later this year.
Corporate marketing and branding around sustainability and ‘green’ themes has undergone dynamic growth over the past decade as social concern over the environment and climate change has spiralled. Many major consumer brands – including Walmart, Ben & Jerry’s, GE, Toyota, Patagonia, Frito-Lay, Timberland, Tesco and even Shell – have embraced a ‘green’ message in their marketing.
A principal aim has been to successfully tap into consumers’ increased environmental awareness while avoiding allegations of duplicity or ‘greenwashing’. Guy Pearse has documented that there is often a disconnect between the ‘green’ boasts of corporate advertising and the reality of environmental impact. A selective focus on specific products and activities is sometimes exposed, as are assertions that are simply inaccurate; but what remains unmistakable in all such activities is an emphasis on evoking positive emotions among consumers and the public in general as part of an alternative emotionology of challenge and opportunity.
Continue reading The corporate creation of an engaging ‘green’ spectacle
As a growing number of studies have demonstrated, climate change poses a significant threat to future social and economic activities. Indeed, the language of ‘risk’ has become a perennial theme in discussions of future climate change impacts and a central construct for how businesses respond to and ‘manage’ climate change.
Recently Daniel Nyberg and I had an article accepted for publication in the journal Organization exploring how corporations have responded to climate uncertainties and threats as ‘risks’ (pre-print PDF here). Conventional cognitive-scientific depictions of risk see organisations as ontologically separate from the risk they act upon. The core assumption underlying risk management is that risk is ‘out there’ and it just has to be ‘found’ and ‘captured’ by professional experts using statistical tools and analysis.
Continue reading Risky business: Corporate constructions of climate change risk
So this brief post arose in response to a blog post on another site entitled “What’s the point of social science?”. In this piece the authors’ described their experience attending a conference in France which addressed the topic of “Confidence, Credibility, and Authority in Climate Sciences and Politics”.
Now I have no idea what the quality of individual papers and presentations at this conference was, but the authors of the blog were clearly unimpressed by the social science contributions. As they noted:
The talks from scientists were generally straightforward, but the social science talks inevitably left us waiting for the punchline. They would get to the end and stop, before reaching any real conclusion. This has been a common impression we have both got from a number of similar events. The speakers tend to be long on historical description and retrospective analysis, and short on anything amounting to overall vision, substantive advice or predictive claims. (There have been notable exceptions to this general impression, but they are rare.)
Continue reading What Use is Social Science in Understanding the Climate Crisis?