Ecological economics

Consumption drivers and impacts

Authored by: Inge Røpke

Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  July  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415544764
eBook ISBN: 9780203876213
Adobe ISBN: 9781135998509


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This chapter revolves around the role of consumption and consumers in global warming, focusing mainly on affluent countries. First, a fundamental perspective on the human economy is outlined, explaining the concept of consumption and emphasising the role of fossil fuels in making possible its historically unique growth. The market economy and global inequality are also highlighted as preconditions for consumption growth in affluent countries. This growth has resulted in the development of modern lifestyles with some core characteristics, outlined in the second section. Third, the background for and drivers behind the ever-increasing consumption growth are discussed, before turning to the implications for energy consumption and thus for global warming in the fourth section. Finally, the question is raised whether it is possible to curb the growth of consumption (see also Chapter 22, this volume).

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