Karen Scott (ESI, UoE), 9 Nov. 2016:

Zombie Neoliberalism or a Zero Carbon Life?

Shifting to a zero carbon economy is the new holy grail. Alongside scientific endeavour to create new technologies, we also need to understand how to create change in the way we live our lives and how our institutions function. Negative messages about environmental risk have failed to substantially change individual behaviours. There is now a widespread acknowledgement that a more positive, culturally-embedded vision of The Good Life in a low carbon economy is needed. In the last decade or so there has been a renewed interest on the part of many governments and supra national organisations to understand happiness and wellbeing and how institutions can promote it. Concern about climate change is only one driver of this. Old certainties are breaking down in advanced liberal democracies regarding the benefits of economic growth, and society is shifting rapidly with demographic changes, different expectations and modes of living. After the 2008 financial crisis, many commentators consider society at a crossroads. We can allow de-legitimised neoliberal economies to stagger along meaninglessly ripping the heart out of our institutions, or we can develop new paradigms of development to replace them by seriously revisiting ancient questions about the meaning of life. In this presentation I’ll cover some of the UK government and OECD responses to these questions and explore what living The Good Life might mean in the ever-changing landscape of the 21st century.