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Towards an evolutionary environmental regulation of capitalism : sustainable development 20 years after


  • Jean Christophe Graz

    (IEPI - Institut d'études politiques et internationales - UNIL - Université de Lausanne)

  • Michel Damian

    () (LEPII - Laboratoire d'Économie de la Production et de l'Intégration Internationale - UPMF - Université Pierre Mendès France - Grenoble 2 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Mehdi Abbas

    () (LEPII - Laboratoire d'Économie de la Production et de l'Intégration Internationale - UPMF - Université Pierre Mendès France - Grenoble 2 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


The paper argues that by combining ecological economics, IPE and regulation approaches more closely, one may provide an account of the apparent contradiction between the utopian aspect of sustainable development and the ability of capitalism to pragmatically deal with ecological crises. It explores how ensuing institutional forms inevitably take sustainability claims into account. It assumes that such forms revolve around the emergence of a new type of evolutionary environmental regulation whose coherence is paradoxically at once open-ended, fragmented and hybrid. This feature clearly reinforces the extreme difficulty in thinking about ecological regularities. The paper analyses core elements of such institutional forms and how far they can be identified as a new type of fragmented evolutionary environmental regulation. Section 1 provides background on the notion of sustainable development. Sections 2 examines the prospects and limits of regulation theory on global ecological issues and presents lessons could be drawn from ecological economics and international political economy approaches for opening new routes to appraise current and future environmental concerns of capitalism. Section 3 explores the emerging form of evolutionary environmental regulation reflecting the apparently paradoxical situation we have reached, in which disillusion regarding sustainable development goes hand in hand with increasing awareness of the inescapability of a policy shift in its favour.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean Christophe Graz & Michel Damian & Mehdi Abbas, 2007. "Towards an evolutionary environmental regulation of capitalism : sustainable development 20 years after," Post-Print halshs-00369962, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00369962
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sneddon, Chris & Howarth, Richard B. & Norgaard, Richard B., 2006. "Sustainable development in a post-Brundtland world," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 253-268, May.
    2. Venkatachalam, L., 2007. "Environmental economics and ecological economics: Where they can converge?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 550-558, March.
    3. Wagner, Jeffrey, 2006. "On the economics of sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 659-664, June.
    4. Solow, Robert M, 1974. "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 1-14, May.
    5. Herbert A. Simon, 1973. "Technology and Environment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(10), pages 1110-1121, June.
    6. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi, 2009. "Energy, Development and the Environment: An Appraisal Three Decades After the ‘Limits to Growth’ Debate," Chapters,in: Recent Advances in Neo-Schumpeterian Economics, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. William D. Nordhaus, 1973. "The Allocation of Energy Resources," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(3), pages 529-576.
    8. Christoph Görg & Ulrich Brand, 2006. "Contested Regimes in the International Political Economy: Global Regulation of Genetic Resources and the Internationalization of the State," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 101-123, November.
    9. Pearce, David, 2006. "The political economy of an energy tax: The United Kingdom's Climate Change Levy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 149-158, March.
    10. Joanna Depledge, 2006. "The Opposite of Learning: Ossification in the Climate Change Regime," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 6(1), pages 1-22, February.
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