Saving Liberalism through Meaningful Choices. Restating the Case for an Individual Carbon Card

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Abstract

Contrary to the narrative of sustainability, the article departs from the position that there is a tension between environmental regulation and liberalism as we commonly understand it. The article argues that this tension emerges because effectively addressing climate change will require to alter profoundly the way we live. The article analyses this tension in terms of two explanans: first, there are physical limits to the actions people can perform without endangering the environment; second, consumption has become a language with which is possible to express one’s identity and, it will be argued, cannot be easily regulated. The article advances the argument that the introduction of a carbon card policy could ease this tension: it allows a limit to be placed on individual polluting activities while safeguarding a realm of choice over the goods and services that people want to acquire, thus allowing them to retain the social meaning of consumption. Finally, the article argues that a carbon card policy could also have other ‘positive externalities.’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Political Economy
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Liberalism
  • environment
  • carbon card
  • PCT
  • public/private distinction

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