Neoliberalism's Climate

by Larry Lohmann

first published 1 October 2015

Just as what is regarded as labour, land, health and mobility have changed under neoliberalism, so too has what is regarded as climate. Under previous phases of capitalism, climate was construed as part of a nature external to, yet interfacing with, society – as a condition for accumulation; as a resource; as an object of conservation; as a computer-modellable system. The neoliberal state builds on these conceptions in reconstructing climate as rentable and marketable units – and climate change as something a separate, monolithic society must "adapt" to.

A thorough grasp of the exploitative and neocolonialist politics that these innovations perpetuate and deepen requires dialogue with indigenous peoples, peasants, workers and their collective history. A shortened version of this paper appears in Kean Birch, Julie MacLeavy and Simon Springer (eds.), Handbook of Neoliberalism, Routledge (2016).