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Environmentalism of the Rich$
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Peter Dauvergne

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034951

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034951.001.0001

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Conclusion: The Allure and Illusion of Riches

Conclusion: The Allure and Illusion of Riches

(p.139) 12 Conclusion: The Allure and Illusion of Riches
Environmentalism of the Rich

Peter Dauvergne

The MIT Press

This final chapter consolidates the book’s arguments and findings into a reflection on the limits and dangers of environmentalism of the rich. Policies and programs are producing gains, especially on per product efficiency measures. But these gains are not aggregating into global solutions. Efficiencies are lost as firms reinvest savings to stimulate even higher levels of unsustainable consumption. Regulatory successes are lost as firms substitute new products and increase exports into countries with lower standards. Certification benefits are lost as investors and buyers shift to new sectors and locations. The growing dominance of environmentalism of the rich risks deluding consumers – and even committed environmental activists – into thinking of capitalism and consumerism as solutions, rather than root causes of unsustainability. As this chapter concludes, if the goal is global sustainability, the mainstream environmental community cannot simply ignore the problems of inequality and consumption.

Keywords:   capitalism, certification, consumption, environmental activists, environmentalism of the rich, inequality, unsustainability

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