Symposium on Green Capitalism

Dates: 
Monday, 8 May, 2017 -
13:00 to 21:30

Join us on 8 May for our symposium on green capitalism, at City University, London

What are proposed as solutions to climate and broader environmental crises in the name of 'Green Capitalism' actually further contribute to these crises because they rely on the logic of commodification of nature rather than its protection. A 'Green Capitalism' is a contradiction in terms, but a very powerful ideological tool. Understanding the myth of green capitalism arms us with arguments against it, as well as for a real ecologically sustainable future.

Following the publication of Corporate Watch's A-Z of Green Capitalism, this symposium will allow participants to critically explore the ideas involved and collectively find ways to counter current developments.

https://corporatewatch.org/publications/2016/A-to-Z-of-green-capitalism

Please note: the event is wheelchair accessible, there are accessible loos close to the rooms and if anyone has specific access requests they can contact the organisers who will try to make things work for them.

Also note: because City University's catering (like many universities) is provided by Sodexo, a company which amongst others runs private prisons ad which Corporate Watch has researched extensively, and because we are not allowed to bring in an external caterer, we would like to suggest that you bring in your own packed lunches and snacks. Tea, coffee, water and juice will be provided. https://corporatewatch.org/company-profiles/sodexo

AGENDA:

Symposium on Green Capitalism

8 May, City Uni, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB


13:00 -13:30 - Intro

Room AG03, City Uni, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB (entrance will be in College Building, St John Street)

Intro to Corporate Watch; purpose of day; agenda; give people chance to introduce themselves.

Each session in the symposium will involved a short, 20 minutes introduction from the speaker then 40 mins for participatory discussion.


13:30-14:30 - Opposition to corporate control of the food system

Tomaso Ferrando

Room AG03, City Uni, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB (entrance will be in College Building, St John Street)

Consumers in the Global North have been increasingly opting for local, fairtrade, organic and healthier food. Many recognize that profit maximization has shaped a food system that is incompatible with their objectives, and want to support different actors and forms of production. However, corporations and financial capital have quickly recognised this desire and turned it into a business opportunity for diversification and profit maximization. Are foods advertised as local, healthy, organic and fair still synonymous with small-scale, familiar and non-corporate, or simply a different face of the dominant food system and its corporate dynamics? How can producers and consumers prevent the corporate take over of alternative food systems?

This session will explore these questions and bring together food activists, campaigners and academics to develop new connections and projects around corporate control of the food system.

- 10 min break -


14:40 – 15:40 - Co-ops as alternatives to green capitalism

Sofa Gradin

Room AG03, City Uni, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB (entrance will be in College Building, St John Street)

To explore how a more sustainable world might work, this session looks at nonprofit co-operatives and they ways in which they organise production. We look at some examples of co-ops that are producing and trading food in different parts of the world: how they model a more sustainable alternative, how they organise amongst themselves to support each other, how they survive the external pressures of capitalism. We’ll then open a discussion about how these practices might expand in our own lives and in society more broadly.

- 10 min break -


15:50 -16:50 - The fallacy of corporate accountability

Grietje Baars

Room AG03, City Uni, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB (entrance will be in College Building, St John Street)

When we hear of corporate wrongdoing, abuse and exploitation, our response is often: corporations must be held to account! Can we sue them, or can we prosecute them, including for human rights violations for example? In this talk I show how the dream of ‘corporate accountability’ is actually an illusion, as it presupposes a state willing and able to curb corporate power and behaviour – or rather, the wealth of the 1% that own those corporations. Also, I show that law – by its very nature - is far from the ‘neutral’ and ‘objective’ mechanism many think it is, and how the ‘nice’ parts of law like human rights and environmental law are merely a pink gloss that exist to distract us from the fact that law and legal systems exist to enable capitalism to exploit people (the 99%) and the planet.

- 10 min break-


17:00 -18:00 - Technocracy and Green Capitalism

Dave King

Room AG03, City Uni, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB (entrance will be in College Building, St John Street)

 Technocracy is a power system which developed in the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century. In that period an ideology of domination of nature through technology was explicitly developed, which was later expressed in industrialism. This attitude towards nature is equally important to the drive of capitalism for extraction and profit in creating the environmental crisis. This crisis should be viewed as the bursting of the 200-year-old bubble of industrial-capitalism. 'Green capitalism' (especially the 'natural capital' element) is a technocratic approach to conservation of nature, based upon the information technology paradigm that is a central constitutive part of the neoliberal industrial regime. The environmental crisis and 'green capitalism' can only be adequately understood through a Luddite approach that recognises the importance of both technocracy and capitalism in the creation of the problem. An extension of those industrial approaches and that critiques of 'green capitalism' need to include a Luddite critique of industrialism as well as of capitalism.



- 10 min break -

18:10 – 19:10 - Within and Beyond Green Capitalism

Joanna Boehnert

Room AG03, City Uni, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB (entrance will be in College Building, St John Street)

As the risks associated with the Anthropocene become increasingly evident, capitalist strategies to avoid ecological meltdown are in development. This work is not stopping the acceleration of environmental harms. In this talk Boehnert will discuss the role of design in social-political transformations to address eco-social crises within and beyond capitalism. In her upcoming book Design/Ecology/Politics: Towards the Ecocene she describes an era of where the generation of new futures is driven by ecologically literate ways of knowing. The Ecocene concept shifts focus from analysis of the problems to development of solutions. An ecologically viable future depends on a new understanding of human-nature relations and the design of new ways of living that emerge from this perspective. Design sits in a pivotal sense-making and change-making space to facilitate this ecological transition. And yet while design has the potential to transform ways of living in emancipatory ways; it is often involved in reproducing the unsustainable and in obfuscating power relations around this process. For this reason, attention to the political economy of design is a necessary part of creating conditions for regenerative design. With these ideas in mind, the Ecocene can propel the cultural change necessary to survive the Anthropocene.

30 min break

19:40 – 21:00 - A-Z of Green Capitalism

Corporate Watch

If you can’t make it during the afternoon, come the evening session and we’ll get you up to speed!

We will give a short introduction to our book, an A-Z to Green Capitalism, explaining what we consider to be key features of green capitalism and why they are a problem, and inviting others to share their views.

We will then give very brief summaries of the sessions from earlier in the day and give a space for discussions raised earlier to be continued and for any further discussion or collaborative projects.


21:00 - Drinks
(we’ll probably head to a nearby pub)

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