Globalisation and Environmental Limits

updated May 2016

Inequality is not the only characteristic of neoliberal economics that has been globalised. Failure to internalise environmental costs in the world economy means that globalisation and environmental limits are set on an accelerating collision course.

Poorer countries will tend to be the losers when confronted with scarcity of food, water and natural resources. An unequal scramble for life’s essentials will elevate the risk of violent conflict; indeed, some observers already make connections between current global conflicts and the incompatibility of globalisation and environmental limits.

Future generations will search in vain for rational explanations of why our common household goods are transported half way around the world from China, not just once but a second time, in the reverse direction for the purpose of recycling.

Shipping and aviation are engines of globalisation but have largely evaded international regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as the Paris Agreement.

International transport is also the key agency of a fault line in national accountability for global warming – countries do not take account of imported goods in their national inventories of greenhouse gas emissions. International negotiations to control emissions have so far been unable to compensate for this distortion.

Globalisation also moves “virtual water” around the world, for example in meat products, often from countries which can ill afford its loss.

Globalisation is not itself responsible for these failures of open market economics. If we could identify an alternative and sustainable economic model, then its globalisation would become desirable.


more Globalisation briefings
Global Governance
Winners and Losers
International Development Model
Globalisation and Migrant Workers
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