2009 volume 41(10) pages 2324 – 2341
doi:10.1068/a40342

Cite as:
Bailey I, Wilson G A, 2009, "Theorising transitional pathways in response to climate change: technocentrism, ecocentrism, and the carbon economy" Environment and Planning A 41(10) 2324 – 2341

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Theorising transitional pathways in response to climate change: technocentrism, ecocentrism, and the carbon economy

Ian Bailey, Geoff A Wilson

Received 12 December 2007; in revised form 14 July 2008; published online 6 August 2009

Abstract. The carbon economy has emerged over the last decade as an important but controversial development in the harnessing of economics to address the challenge of climate change. In this paper we utilise the concepts of policy change and transition theorisations to analyse carbon commodification within the broader range of possible responses to the climate problem. We argue that the neoliberal, technocentric, and ecological modernisation values underpinning the carbon economy create serious obstacles for the incorporation of alternative or complementary transitional strategies, particularly those involving ecocentric changes, into mainstream policy. From this we contend that a more holistic approach to the conceptualisation of change processes is needed, and that transition theory provides a useful lens for identifying and assessing existing constraints and future possibilities.

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