Economicization of environmental issues

Bâtiments verts

In parallel to my work on the financialization that has produced today's capitalism and continues to strongly handicap its capacity for transformation, I am concerned by environmental questions.

Despite the reformist efforts of countless actors, it seems that none of the destructive trajectories of the Anthropocene, be it global warming, loss of biodiversity or depletion of resources, have yet been reversed.

My approach to this immobility despite the restlessness takes as its starting point the socio-technical texturing of the world. The reforms at work today are based on the translation of the environmental stakes into the language of management and finance.  This kind of integration of the environmental concern into capitalism is not able to transform the economic system sufficiently.


Edited volumes
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2020. Chiapello E., Pottier A., Missemer A. (eds), Faire l’économie de l’environnement, Paris : Presse de l’Ecole des Mines,

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2021 Chiapello E., Engels A. (eds) Journal of Cultural Economy, The fabrication of environmental intangibles.”


2020 Chiapello E., Stalemate for the financialization of climate policy, economic sociology, The European electronic newsletter, vol. 22, N°, November, pp. 20-29

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2021. Chiapello E., Engels A. (2021) The fabrication of environmental intangibles as a questionable response to environmental problems, Journal of Cultural Economy, to be published,

Abstract: This article proposes a general framework within which to analyze the new environmental intangibles that have been proliferating over the last decades in order to address  environmental problems on a market basis. We pay attention to different possible states of environmental intangibles according to the degree of commodification of the impact they are based on. The impact is measured, then commodified and sometimes traded in a secondary market. Each state requires complex socio-technical arrangements. We also differentiate between positive impact, avoided negative impact and negative impact commodities,
since each of them appears to relate to the environment problem quite differently. The literature and the articles of this special issue provide numerous case studies. They suggest that the commodification of environmental impacts via the creation of intangibles often fails to deliver the promised environmental improvements. We throw light on one of their aspects: the detachment from the physicality of the impacts, a detachment that is needed to commodify them. This detachment takes different guises. It seems that the greatest flexibility for economic actors comes with a greater detachment, and that this weakens its environmental effectiveness.

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2020 Chiapello E., Pottier A., Missemer A . Introduction. In : Chiapello E., Missemer A. Pottier A., (eds), Faire l’économie de l’environnement, Paris : Presse de l’Ecole des Mines, pp. 7-16

2020 Chiapello E., La financiarisation de la politique climatique dans l’impasse. In : Chiapello E., Missemer A., Pottier A., (eds), Faire l’économie de l’environnement, Paris : Presse de l’Ecole des Mines, pp 39-58

2013 Chiapello E., Capitalism and its criticisms, chapter 3, in: New spirits of capitalism, Glenn Morgan and Paul du Gay (Eds), 2013, Oxford U.P., pp.60-82