Neoliberal Climate Policy in the United States: From Market Fetishism to the Developmental State
The research question animating this project is 'what is the nature of neoliberalism's influence on recent and contemporary US climate change policy?' Situating itself against several growing bodies of literature which have sought to underscore the fetishism of markets in recent environmental and climate policy agendas under neoliberalism – e.g., the work of Heynen et al (2007) on 'neoliberal environments'; Paterson and Newell's (2010) work on neoliberalism and carbon markets; and the work of
... ; and the work of Dryzek et al (2003) on state forms and ecological modernization – this project argues that any such analysis must be predicated on a considerably more nuanced conception of (a) 'neoliberalism', (b) the historic role of states in fostering accumulation, and (c) the nature of policy development within any specific neoliberal context. Applying these theoretical re-conceptualizations to the American context, the project argues that a central tension informing contemporary US climate policy under neoliberalism can be understood a stand-off between two prevailing logics in the federal policy process: on the one hand, Washington's attempt to build on its tradition of using state power to foster high-tech market development by cultivating the alternative energy realm as a developmental state project, and on the other, the anti-regulationist bent of neoliberalism which seeks to delegitimize the 'pull' policies required to 'creatively destroy' conventional energy and animate domestic alternative energy markets. Against the general conception of the US as a 'climate laggard' whose policy options are restricted market mechanisms and generally anathema to progressive ecological modernization, this body of work shows how the US has managed to develop a robust set of interventionist 'push' and 'pull' climate policies along 'alternative policy pathways', despite the prevailing anti-state rhetoric of neoliberalism.