The ‘New’ Environmental Narratives and the Resurgence of Old Debates

Umberto Mario Sconfienza

Global Cooperation Research Papers 27, Duisburg 2021

Keywords: degrowth; environmental authoritarianism; ecomodernism; sustainable development; geoengineering

DOI: 10.14282/2198-0411-GCRP-27


The paper takes a critical view of the narrative of sustainable development and argues that three different environmental narratives – ecomodernism, environmental authoritarianism, and degrowth – are now providing alternative problem-solving accounts of environmental governance. The paper analyses the three narratives according to a common set of categories. Furthermore, it argues that these three narratives are bringing again to scholarly attention debates – over the limits to growth, the limits to technological innovation, and the potential limits of democracy in guiding environmental politics – which, at the end of the last century, had been effectively defused by the hegemonic sustainable development narrative. Finally, the paper explores the significance of the resurgence of these debates for environmental politics.

The Author

Umberto Mario Sconfienza is a researcher in environmental politics and philosophy. He currently works as a research associate at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research on a project dealing with the ecological transition at the local and cross-border levels. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Politics and Philosophy from Tilburg University.

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