Watch webinar "The reinvention of fossil fuel hegemony in an age of climate crisis"
Professor Christopher Wright (Sydney) reviews over a decade’s research into business responses to the climate crisis.
Human-induced climate disruption is the most pressing issue facing our species, yet despite scientific assessments re-emphasising the urgency of the problem, the world’s addiction to economic growth and the fossil energy that fuels it continues to expand. While there is much busyness amongst corporate and business elites for commitments to future action, appeals to ‘sustainability’ and the building of processes of carbon accounting and certification, the crucial metrics of aggregate carbon emissions and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to worsen. In this seminar, I review over a decade’s research into business responses to the climate crisis and outline the arguments of our forthcoming book Organising Responses to Climate Change: The Politics of Mitigation, Adaptation and Suffering (Nyberg, Wright & Bowden, 2022). We explore how corporate and political leaders organise climate change – by not only producing an all-encompassing environmental crisis but also shaping the response to it in ways that ensure nothing substantial can change. We explore the creation and maintenance of a ruling order of economic and political activity – a fossil fuel hegemony that refuses to bend even when confronted by the destruction of our planet’s life-support systems. While the trajectory of escalating atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations suggests a truly grim future for much of life on the planet, we outline three tentative political responses to an alternative climate future: decarbonisation, degrowth and democracy, which may yet loosen the grip of the fossil fuel hegemony.
Christopher Wright is a Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School and a key researcher at Sydney Environment Institute where he teaches and researches organisational change, management innovation, sustainability and critical understandings of capitalism and political economy. Over the last decade, he has researched organizational and societal responses to climate change, with a focus on how managers and business organizations interpret and respond to the climate crisis. He has published on this topic in relation to issues of corporate environmentalism, corporate citizenship, organizational justification and compromise, risk, identity and future imaginings. His research on climate change and business is internationally recognised and he has developed research collaborations with leading international climate scientists and global environmental organisations.
His research has appeared in a broad range of leading journals including The Academy of Management Journal, The Academy of Management Perspectives, Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Research Policy, Global Environmental Change, Human Relations, Organization and the British Journal of Sociology. As well as chapters in edited collections, he is the author of several books including The Management of Labour (Oxford University Press, 1995), Management as Consultancy (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and Responses to Climate Change: The Politics of Mitigation, Adaptation and Suffering (Cambridge University Press, 2022).
This webinar is part of a new series launched by the new LESS research group and supported by CERIC (Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change).
Currently, we are all very concerned and stressed due to the Covid crisis. Putting the current crisis into a longer-term perspective, we might ask ourselves whether a political-economic and cultural system which struggles to deal with the Covid crisis will have the capacity to deal with the environmental crisis adequately. If your answer to this question is as pessimistic as ours, you might be interested in joining the LESS group — a new cross-divisional group at LUBS to explore system-level sustainability research, open to all researchers regardless of disciplinary background or prior experience in sustainability research.
We are inspired by a growing number of studies, which argue that the environmental crisis requires a radical change in the political-economic and cultural structure within which organizations and individuals operate. The mission of the LESS group is to advance interdisciplinary efforts to develop system-level research that addresses environmental emergencies.
To join the LESS group please contact either of LESS' co-leaders: