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Ecological modernisation at the periphery : an analysis of greenhouse development opportunities in a 'clean green' Australian state


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Beckitt, Alexander C. R 2001 , 'Ecological modernisation at the periphery : an analysis of greenhouse development opportunities in a 'clean green' Australian state', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Concern over greenhouse gases and the onset of global warming has become
international in scale. Business opportunities arising from greenhouse gas abatement have
been correspondingly recognised, and the potential advantages of less greenhouse
intensive processes are being explored for any available market advantage. With this
recognition comes a need to ensure that abatement is occurring, and that environmental
benefit is a real outcome.
Ecological modernisation theory posits that capitalist business behaviour can benefit by
building into its activities environmental stewardship, thereby contributing to long term
conservation of global ecosystems. The theory is explored, defining terms and discussing
insights and limitations. The nature of greenhouse policy and definitions of what might
comprise a greenhouse abatement industry are then established. This background
provides a basis from which to investigate the business opportunities and constraints of
genuine ecologically driven greenhouse reform.
The thesis employs two case studies from the small Australian state of Tasmania. They
depict how the theory of ecological modernisation is translated into practice. The
Tasmanian government owns two businesses that significantly influence the state's
greenhouse profile - one managing forests, the other renewable energy resources — and
these have been chosen. Each case is tested against a history of environmental conflict
and in the context of current marketing of a 'clean and green' image for the state. On this
basis an assessment of what ecological modernisation can achieve is made.
It is concluded that the environmental discourse characteristic of greenhouse policies
cannot be translated into significant business opportunities due to difficulties involved
with investment risks and with breaking from traditional development paradigms.
Outcomes tend to constitute technological add-ons (evidence of weak ecological
modernisation), or, in the worst case, a continuation of existing unsustainable practices
within an environmental guise. This confines policy goals and production outcomes, and
directly results in overstating environmental gains, a constriction of socio-political
discourse, and undermined marketing potential in terms of environmental care. The
promotion of greenhouse potential is therefore likely to be little more than rhetoric. The
study concludes that, while ecological modernisation provides a theoretical framework
through which trends can be ascertained, it fails in a prescriptive sense, for it does not
explicitly cater for the uptake of environmental stewardship in the confines of strained
economic circumstances similar to those of Tasmania and, perhaps, other types of

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Beckitt, Alexander C. R
Keywords: Greenhouse effect, Atmospheric, Economic development, Environmental policy
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2001 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Env.Mgt.) - University of Tasmania, 2001. Includes bibliographical references

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