Skip to main content
Economist Juliet Schor on Inequality & Climate Crisis

Economist Juliet Schor on Inequality & Climate Crisis

Environment & Energy

In this short video, economist and social theorist Juliet Schor explains the systemic connection between the growth-fueled climate crisis and the need to tackle increasing economic inequality.

Transcript:

Well, I think it’s fair to say that we’re in a structural crisis for the following reason: there are two very large problems that the system faces. The first is climate change, global warming and the fact that the ordinary operation of our economy creates levels of greenhouse gases which are incompatible with a functioning planetary ecosystem. The US in particular, has admitted very large amounts of greenhouse gases, so we’ve got a rapidly decelerate our emissions.

That runs into a conflict with the other major problem of our system which is that it’s generating enormous levels of inequality as well as economic deprivation and hardship for large numbers of people, those two things are related.

You could have an equality in a situation where everybody pretty much has a reasonable standard of living, but what’s happened is that the rapid movement of wealth to the very top has been at the expense of people throughout the income distribution so we have now very large numbers of people in poverty, we have very high unemployment and underemployment, we have large numbers of people just struggling to make their basic needs like food and shelter and so forth.

The reason I say it’s a systemic crisis or a structural crisis is that typically the solution to that economic problem is to expand the economy, but that makes the climate problem much worse because emissions move pretty closely with economic activity, so we’ve got to find a new path that allows us to solve both climate and economic deprivation at the same time. And we can only do that with a whole different kind of system.

More related work

BRESCO protest

The nation’s first “fair development” zero waste plan 

In a south Baltimore neighborhood, a powerful, youth-led coalition helped spearhead the first Zero Waste Plan developed by and for U.S. grassroots communities that want to transition from an economy of extraction to one of reuse and regeneration. read more
Out of time

Out of Time: The case for nationalizing the fossil fuel industry

With oil prices collapsing and firms’ market values plunging, the government can once again use a policy weapon that has in the past been successful in overcoming social and economic unrest. read more
Oil well

The movement to nationalize the fossil fuel industry: a timeline

An interactive timeline chronicles key moments in the movement to advance the nationalization of the fossil fuel industry, which would enable a managed just transition to renewable energy. read more