This article explores the environmental stewardship capabilities of the liberal democratic state by critically examining the 'fit' between liberalism, capitalism and different discourses of economy-environment integration. The discourses that are more compatible with liberalism and capitalism are shown to be less likely to deliver sustainability. This problem is traced to the way liberals understand sustainability as a constraint on autonomy, rather than a condition of autonomy. The article develops an ideal typology of three environmental states the ecoliberal state, the environmental welfare state and the green democratic state which embodies the three main discourses of sustainability in the post-Brundtland era: simple ecological modernisation, sustainable development and 'reflexive ecological modernisation'. The green democratic state is defended as more capable than the ecoliberal state or the environmental welfare state of promoting sustainability, which also maximises autonomy for all, now and in the future.
International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development – Inderscience Publishers
Published: Jan 1, 2006