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Varieties of Capitalism and Technological Innovation for Climate Change Mitigation

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Politicians hope that technological innovation will mitigate the threat of climate change and expect that capitalism will most efficiently deliver the necessary technologies. Yet capitalism is not monolithic. The Varieties of Capitalism approach suggests that capitalist states fall within a spectrum between liberal market economies (LMEs) and coordinated market economies (CMEs). How do the relative styles of technological innovation in LMEs versus CMEs affect their ability to reduce carbon emissions? This article addresses this question by investigating the relative technological styles and strengths of LMEs and CMEs, and comparing them to the technological development needed to combat climate change. While technological change in CMEs tends to be more incremental, LMEs, with their greater orientation to competitive markets, are said to better support radical technological change. This article finds that the US's LME variety of capitalism hampers its ability to address climate change by comparison to CMEs such as Germany and Japan, and therefore suggests that the US's lack of leadership on climate change is as much a consequence of its variety of capitalism as an absence of political will.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Government and International Relations,The University of Sydney, 253 Merewether Building H04, SydneyNew South Wales,2006, Australia 2: Executive Director,Sustainable Development Insitute, Laramie,Wyoming, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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