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Climate One

Thursday, July 2 at 2:00 pm

Reimagining Capitalism: Wealth, Power, And Patriarchy

With inequality booming and climate change looming, is it time to rethink capitalism?

“We've come to the point where making more stuff in order to sell more stuff in order to make more money is breaking down,” says Hope Jahren, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Oslo.

In her new book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here, Jahren questions whether a healthy climate can coexist with a consumption-driven economy. Rebecca Henderson from the Harvard Business School is more sanguine about the prospects for addressing climate in a capitalist economy

“We have a pricing and regulatory problem,” she says, adding that “we’re not charging the full cost of economic activity.” Henderson is the author of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire and believes capitalism can be harnessed to better serve society as a whole.

“It’s fairly clear to see how to fix it,” she says. “The only thing it requires is a massive cultural and political movement changing the rules that constrain capitalism – but as soon as we can do that, we’re done.”

But is it really possible to support capitalism while fighting climate change? Norway seems like a country doing just that — or is it merely an enlightened hypocrite?

“It’s a sort of country of paradoxes,” says Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Correspondent for The Financial Times. “On the one hand it’s Western Europe's biggest oil producer; on the other hand, it’s probably the biggest market in the world for electric cars.”

That paradox is alive and well in Norway, according to Sveinung Rotevatn, the country’s Minister of Climate and Environment, who notes that “in Norwegian politics there’s one expression that you’ll hear more than almost any other expression and that is, ‘What is the new oil?’”

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, is supported exclusively by petroleum revenues but has allowed the country to electrify its economy and lead the way in clean-energy technologies.

“I’m happy to report that our emissions have been going down three years in a row now and are predicted to keep going down steadily,” says Rotevatn, “but my job as Minister of Climate and the Environment obviously is to implement more policies to make them go down even faster.”

To listen to the audio of “Reimagining Capitalism: Wealth, Power, And Patriarchy” on Climate One online, please click HERE.