Trinity Geography Annual Lecture

TCD Geography Annual Lecture 2024

The Price is Wrong: Why Capitalism Won't Save the Planet

Brett Christophers, Professor of Human Geography, Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University
15th February 2024, 6.00 to 7.30pm, HLT, The Museum Building, Trinity College Dublin

Annual lecture 2024 given by Prof. Brett Christophers

TCD Geography hosted Prof. Brett Christophers on 15 February 2024 for our annual lecture.

What if our understanding of capitalism and climate is back to front? What if the problem is not that transitioning to renewables is too expensive, but that saving the planet is not sufficiently profitable? Today's consensus is that the key to curbing climate change is to produce green electricity and electrify everything possible. The main economic barrier in that project has seemingly been removed. But while prices of solar and wind power have tumbled, the golden era of renewables has yet to materialize. The problem is that investment is driven by profit, not price, and operating solar and wind farms remains a marginal business, dependent everywhere on the state's financial support. The global economy is moving too slowly toward sustainability because the return on green investment is too low. We cannot expect markets and the private sector to solve the climate crisis while the profits that are their lifeblood remain unappetizing. But there is an alternative to providing surrogate green profits through subsidies: to take energy out of the private sector's hands.

Prof Brett Christophers

Guest Speaker 2024

Brett Christophers is one of the world's most influential economic geographers with a particular interest in urban and housing issues. He is the author of numerous academic articles and several books including most recently a series of books published with Verso, The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain (2019), Rentier Capitalism: Who Owns the Economy, and Who Pays for it? (2022), Our Lives as Portfolios: Why Asset Managers Own the World (2023) and the forthcoming The Price is Wrong: Why Capitalism Won't Save the Planet (2024).