The international political economy of (un)sustainable consumption and the global financial collapse

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Adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit and elaborated at the Johannesburg Conference a decade later, sustainable consumption occupies an increasingly prominent political position. Numerous governmental ministries and supranational organisations have produced sustainable consumption plans. However, actual programmatic initiatives have been limited to modest information and education campaigns as policy proposals are constrained by political contexts. Researchers have documented flows of materials and energy, but have disregarded the political and economic dynamics that animate throughput movements. Inattention to factors that propel the global metabolism, scholarship largely failed to anticipate the ongoing global financial collapse. Work on the household economics and macroeconomics of consumption is reviewed and an international political economy of (un)sustainable consumption is developed. Realignment of the global economic order will require renegotiation of the tacit agreements that the USA strikes with its trading partners and the design of more efficacious systems of production and consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-126
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • American empire
  • Debt
  • Deficits
  • Degrowth
  • International trade


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