Equity failure

A further factor which limits the effectiveness of a mainstream sustainable consumption approach is the category error which pits individuals against global institutions to solve global collective action problems. Sustainable consumption as defined in mainstream policy relies upon the summation of many small acts of atomised consumer sovereignty to shift the market. However, the environmental problems which this strategy seeks to address, such as climate change, are global in nature (crossing state boundaries, and distributing risks, benefits and costs unevenly among stakeholders with vastly different capacities to respond) and require negotiated, collective efforts to resolve. Furthermore, the institutions which currently propagate unsustainable consumption are also global, such as the World Trade Organization whose rules prevent governments favouring fairly-traded or 'green' imports (Tallontire and Blowfield, 2000). Transforming these institutions to serve ecological citizenship requires collective strategic action (Manno, 2002). While 'green growth' and 'market transformation' offer the promise of an environmentally friendly future which does not threaten the political or commercial status quo, green consumerism and individualisation of responsibility for the environment belie the powerful institutions and interests at stake. Maniates (2002) states that 'when responsibility for environmental problems is individualised, there is little room to ponder institutions, the nature and exercise of political power, or ways of collectively changing the distribution of power and influence in society' (p. 45). Indeed, the institutional consumption in society (by governments, primarily on social infrastructure, the military, etc) which makes up the bulk of resource use is collectively determined, albeit somewhat invisibly, yet policy attention focuses on the behavioural responsibilities of the individual and household. Thus the mainstream strategy lacks political bite, by placing relatively powerless individuals against institutional behemoths, and neglects governance issues and questions of power.

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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