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Andreas Malm

Associate professor

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China as Chimney of the World: The Fossil Capital Hypothesis

Author

  • Andreas Malm

Summary, in English

What has caused the early 21st-century emissions explosion in China? Driving a global explosion, it appears to stand in some relation to processes of globalization, but these links have mostly remained unexplored. This article revisits some established frameworks for understanding the connection between globalization and environmental degradation and argues that they are insufficient for explaining the Chinese explosion. A new hypothesis is outlined, called "the fossil capital hypothesis." It proposes that globally mobile capital will tend to relocate production to countries with cheap and disciplined labor, but only through the accelerated consumption of fossil energy. Via three specified "effects," the inflow of global capital will therefore set off massive increases in CO2 emissions. The hypothesis is applied in a brief analysis of developments in China between 2001 and 2008, and in other Asian countries after the Chinese strike wave in 2010.

Department/s

  • Human Ecology

Publishing year

2012

Language

English

Pages

146-177

Publication/Series

Organization & Environment

Volume

25

Issue

2

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Topic

  • Social and Economic Geography

Keywords

  • CO2 emissions
  • globalization
  • China
  • embodied emissions in trade
  • labor
  • fossil capital
  • environmental Kuznets curve in reverse

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 1552-7417