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Green Devaluation: Disruption, Divestment, and Decommodification for a Green Economy

Knuth, Sarah

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This paper argues that taking up questions of value can help political ecologists and economists develop a more powerful analysis of the green economy, as it introduces new urban, industrial, and technological dimensions into a self-identified green capitalism. More specifically, I maintain that processes of green devaluation, decommodification, and techno-industrial replacement are as important in understanding green economic development as new value enclosure and green growth. Twenty-first-century green economic politics have been marked by Schumpeterian ambitions and zero-sum intra-capitalist struggles, alongside a more general hardening of anti-fossil fuel industry politics from both grassroots climate justice activists and, increasingly, mainstream investors. I explore three interrelated initiatives—disruptive innovation in Silicon Valley cleantech, the U.S. fossil fuel divestment movement, and the global financial industry’s stranded assets organizing—as windows into these struggles. Themes of devaluation, obsolescence (both technological and “moral”), and (more or less absolute) decommodification carry through this discussion as activists struggle to translate quantitative advances against fossil fuels into a more profound qualitative break. Understanding these fights is essential to developing more effective engaged scholarship on climate change and a just energy transition.


Knuth, S. (2016). Green Devaluation: Disruption, Divestment, and Decommodification for a Green Economy. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 28(1), 98-117.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 25, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 14, 2016
Publication Date Dec 14, 2016
Deposit Date May 23, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 28, 2018
Journal Capitalism Nature Socialism
Print ISSN 1045-5752
Electronic ISSN 1548-3290
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 98-117


Accepted Journal Article (267 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Capitalism nature socialism on 14 Dec 2016 available online:

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