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The relationships between neoliberalism and environmental governance have been the topic of much scholarly and policy debate. The recent, and ongoing, economic crisis brings new questions and urgency to these debates. This paper examines whether and how the economic crisis might be understood as a crisis of neoliberalism and what the implications might be for environmental quality and the dominance of ‘neoliberal’ approaches to environmental governance. The paper attempts to delineate some of the major potential relationships between neoliberalism and environmental governance through this crisis. It argues that although such relationships are contingent and subject to political action, in the US context at least the ongoing economic crisis has resulted in a weakening of support for environmental protections, in a manner that does not fit with current claims of the ‘post‐political’ condition. The paper concludes by outlining several positive contributions critical geographers and other analysts of nature‐society relations could make to challenging the current dominance of neoliberal policies in environmental management.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9663.2012.00711.x

Affiliations: Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Worcester, MA, 01610, USA.

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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