The history of environmental and energy economics through the lens of political economy

Authored by: Antoine Missemer

The Routledge Handbook of the Political Economy of the Environment

Print publication date:  October  2021
Online publication date:  October  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367410704
eBook ISBN: 9780367814533
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter highlights the value of mobilizing a political economy perspective when writing the history of environmental and energy economics. Through the examples of the emergence of the concept of natural capital in the 1900s and of the first experiments to measure energy-growth decoupling in the 1920s, it shows how political economy is able to renew our understanding of past paradigms, ideas, and theories related to natural resources and the environment. Political economy not only can provide insights on the context and motives surrounding the emergence of concepts and models, it may also lead historians to reconsider their research questions as they discover that energy and environmental issues hide true distributional, social issues. In other words, theoretical and conceptual contributions apparently limited to the sole field of environmental and energy economics can be illuminated in a new light through the lens of political economy.

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