Capitalism and environmental unsustainability

In an era of environmental unsustainability, this interdisciplinary group is dedicated to examining the political and economic organisation of nature and society.

They study how market forces and public governance (at different spatial scales) interact to drive various forms of ecological degradation, and the negotiation of its consequences by actors in civil society, the state and institutions of global governance.

This entails an awareness of the political-economic drivers of climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, the collapse of fish stocks, water scarcity, and the pollution of soil and water supplies. But it also demands a recognition of how environmental injustice intersects with issues of social injustice – poverty and vulnerability in particular – in order to critically assess the fairness as well as efficacy of challenging these drivers and the proposed solutions to unsustainability. 

From different disciplinary backgrounds, and on the basis of empirical evidence gathered from across the world, this group debates:

  • Carbon markets and offsetting
  • The monetary and non-monetary valuations of natural resources
  • The prospects of, and limits to, green growth
  • The hegemony of GDP growth and alternative measurements of progress
  • The politics and economics of decarbonisation and socio-technical transitions
  • The barriers to the introduction of low-carbon energy production, architecture and urban re-design
  • The effects of capital interests on the scale and ambition of environmental regulation and energy policy
  • Democracy and the environmental crisis
  • Greening the institutions of global governance
  • The ‘Green State’
  • The prospects of greening the state’s economic governance in terms of both fiscal and monetary policy
  • Local Government and natural resource management
  • Environmental social movements
  • Green citizenship
  • Transforming models of production and consumption to reflect the challenge of ecological unsustainability


  • Kevin Anderson - Kevin is Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research as well as Professor of Energy and Climate Change in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. Hi work on carbon budgets has been pivotal in revealing the widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions. His work makes clear that there is now little chance of maintaining the rise in global temperature at below 2C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, Kevin's research demonstrates how avoiding even a 4C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterisation of contemporary society.
  • Daniel Bailey – Dan’s research focuses on the implications of the ecological crisis for the form and functions of the state. He explores the strategic dilemmas presented by unsustainability, assesses policy and institutional responses to date, and investigates the political-economic barriers and limits to more transformative state change.
  • Stefan Bouzarovski - Stefan's research interests are based in: human geography, particularly social and political geography; social environmental science; political ecology; architecture; urban planning; development; and welfare economics. Within these domains, his scholarship has mainly focused on the socio-technical, economic and political dynamics in the rise of energy poverty in developed and developing countries alike.
  • Alison Browne - Ali is interested in the ways that we can understand, and influence, transitions towards sustainable water consumption (and related resource use) in the Global North and South. She has studied this problematic from the perspective of governance of water resources in the context of climate change.
  • Noel Castree - Noel has long been interested in understanding how capitalism relates to land, water and air. Early in his career, he sought to 'green' Marxist political economy in ways that avoided the explanatory Scylla of a fixed, external 'nature' and the Charybdis of an all-powerful capitalism that bends nature to its will.
  • Carl Death - Carl’s research focuses on forms of power and resistance that structure environmental politics in Africa, with particular interest in South Africa and Tanzania. His research has addressed various case studies including climate, green economy and sustainable development strategies, consumption movements, food security and land reform, diplomatic summits, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and nuclear power. His most recent publication is entitled The Green State in Africa (Yale University Press, 2016).
  • James Evans - James' research explores the geographical aspects of urban sustainability, primarily contributing to the disciplines of Geography and Urban Studies. He has a long standing interest in the relationship between environmental science and urban thought, particularly in terms of how organizing concepts like for example resilience and systems thinking structure contemporary approaches to cities.
  • Simin Fadaee – Simin’s current research examines the expansion of the permaculture movement in India and its transformative potential. Her previous work has also examined issues of political sociology, activism, and environmental politics in locations in Iran, India and Germany.
  • Alice Larkin – Alice is Head of the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering and a Professor in Climate Science & Energy Policy as part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. From a natural science perspective, she is interested in climate change mitigation pathways, low-carbon transport, carbon capture and storage, climate policy and the ‘Water-Food-Energy nexus’. This interests have focused her analysis on the industrial sectors of agriculture, shipping and aviation.
  • Samadhi Lipari – Samadhi’s research interests lie at the intersection between political economy, critical geogra-phy, and political ecology. He looks at XII century capitalism’s adaptation and expansion in the context of multiple ecological crises along the dialectics between labour exploitation and eco-system capitalisation. While focusing on the enclosing of human and more-than-human marginal natures within accumulation frontiers, he investigates the complexities interlinking uneven de-velopment, socioecological inequalities, and class hegemony.
  • Sherilyn MacGregor – Sherilyn specialises in the interdisciplinary field of gender and environmental politics. Her research explores themes of environmental (un)sustainability, gender (in)equality, and theories and practices of citizenship.  The research is animated by critical questions about power relations, environmental and social justice, the gendered divisions of labour and responsibility, and strategies for eco-political transformation in affluent societies.
  • Matthew Paterson - Matthew’s research and teaching focuses on the political economy of climate change. He has worked variously on the negotiation of the UNFCCC, the insurance industry’s initiatives, carbon markets and the financialisation of the climate, and the political economy of decarbonisation.
  • Saska Petrova - Saska's research is focused on intra-community relations and vulnerabilities as they relate to energy, social justice, local governance and natural resource management. She is the research coordinator of the Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy (CURE) which combines the work of 20 world-leading scholars focusing on the spatial and social dimensions of sustainability transitions.
  • Dale Southerton – Dale’s research explores theories and processes of social change and its implications for the ordering of daily life. More specifically, this concerns comparative analysis of consumption, climate change and sustainability, social relations, socio-technical systems and innovation.
  • Erik Swyngedouw - Erik has a long-standing interest in understanding the political, economic, and environmental dynamics of capitalism and the social forces and practices that aim at its transformation towards a more genuinely humanising geography. His academic research interests include: political-ecology; hydro-social conflict; urban governance and urban movements; democracy and political power; and the politics of globalisation.
  • Robert Watt – Robbie’s broad interests in research and teaching are in the politics of international development, climate change policy, international political economy, and environmental change.
  • Ada Wossink – As an Ecological Economist, Ada’s primary research interest lie in the objectives of land use, technology adoption, environmental policy, and sustainability. Her most recent work focuses on ecosystem services, sustainable food consumption, the impact of regulatory differences on the location of polluting industries in Europe, environmental efficiency and policy uncertainty.
  • Luke Yates – Luke’s research focuses on collective action, politics and everyday consumption practices. He is particularly interested in how these play out in processes of change such as through protests and occupations, political or politicised forms of consumption and lifestyle, and shifting patterns and organisation of daily life.