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Cul-de-Sac Economics: Europe on the Brink of Climate Meltdown

Online lecture by Cornel Ban
(Copenhagen Business School)

Monday, 29th of March , 7:30 pm.

Link for the online event:

The recording is available to watch here:

Moderated by Attila Szigeti.

Science tells us that we are playing a pyramid scheme with the habitability of our Earth. It also tells is that we are getting close to the panic and unravelling stages of that pyramid scheme, with a stabilization of warming at below 2 degrees Celsius being our optimistic scenario. This reckless game is embedded in institutional complementarities that make it politically and economically costly to arrest the causal generators of environmental collapse. It seems that as a species we can’t help but have the greatest death wish of all.

Yet in this dire landscape, Europe has been the only politico-economic force among the industrialized powerhouses of global capitalism that has taken upon itself the ambition to become a green hub in terms of how to change investment and consumption. As such, seen from afar, the continent seems to be staking outs its future onto a kind of “green” Enlightenment, with all the attending costs derived from this choice in a world of climate nihilism. From the net zero emissions target by 2050 to the 2 trillion euro financing lines of the European Green Deal, Next Generation EU and public banks and through the deep environmental anxieties changing the political scene in many core countries, Europeans seem poised to at least put up a good fight rather than be in denial or be paralyzed by too much environmental lucidity.

But what kind of financial system reforms, consumption management decisions and income reallocations would it really take to keep our world relatively inhabitable when we (hopefully) stabilize below 2 degrees? Are these existentially critical and coordination-dependent changes politically viable in the European political and institutional archipelago? Can they cohabit with the operational codes of lead firms in European value chains ran by the all-powerful codes of shareholder value orientation and financialized management and, if so, under what conditions? Is Europe’s “green” Enlightenment a seriously efficient battle with the producers of climate meltdown or is it merely last ditch, largely symbolic and sublimely tasteful kind of resistance?

Cornel Ban is an associate professor of International Political economy at Copenhagen Business School. Prior to this he has been Reader at City University of London, assistant professor at Boston University and research fellow at Brown University in the United States. He wrote two books and a dozen articles and book chapters on the politics of economic expertise and income distribution, macroeconomic policy shifts and organizational shifts in international financial institutions and capitalist diversity in Brazil, Spain and Romania.

His most recent book (Ruling Ideas: How Neoliberalism Goes Local, Oxford University Press, 2018) received the political economy award for 2017 of the British International Studies Association.

He is currently working on growth regimes, finance and the climate crisis, and the political economy of the entrepreneurial state.

The event is part of Orbiting Modernity: from the steam engine to galactic debris project developed by / Cluj in 2020-2021.
This starting point represents the basis of an educational research project that aims at exposing the way in which global ecology and the impact of human activity on the environment are over-determined by the structural transformations of modern society.

Coordinated by Alex Cistelecan, Dana Domsodi, Attila Szigeti, Attila Tordai-S.

Past events:
Gareth Dale (Brunel University, Londra) - Can we cool a burning planet? Degrowth, technology, and the Green New Deal
Oana Mateescu (University of Bergen) – AI Commons
Natalia Buier (Max Planck Institute Social Anthropology) Classless train: technology, infrastructure and capitalist ecomodernization
Adrian Grama, Ștefan Guga – Forces and relations of production, now and then

The lecture will be held in English.

Main partner of is ERSTE Foundation.

More info: