Ecological modernization

Ecological modernization

Institutional Efficacy, Case Study Evidence, Units of Analysis, and the Pace of Eco-Efficiency

  1. University of Oregon, rfyork{at}darkwing.uoregon.edu

Abstract

We raise four challenges to the claim of ecological modernization theory (EMT) that continued modernization is necessary for ecological sustainability. First, EMT needs to go beyond merely demonstrating that societies modify their institutions in reaction to environmental problems and show that such modifications lead to ecological improvements. Second, EMT must show that late stages of modernizing processes lead to the ecological transformation of production and consumption at relatively high frequency. Third, EMT must demonstrate that industries or firms that are reducing their direct impact on the environment are not contributing to the expansion of negative impacts by other industries or firms. Fourth, EMT must show not only that economies are becoming more resource efficient but also that the pace of increase in efficiency exceeds the pace of increase in overall production. In this article, we review the existing evidence and find that EMT has insufficiently addressed these four issues.


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