Anthropocene, Emissions Budget, and the Structural Crisis of the Capitalist World-System

  • Minqi Li University of Utah
Keywords: Anthropocene, emissions budget, capitalism, structural crisis, de-growth


This paper evaluates the implications of global emissions budget distribution between three large geographical areas (China, OECD countries, and the rest of the world) in the context of Anthropocene and the structural crisis of the capitalist world system. Two plausible emissions distribution principles are considered. Under neither the inertia principle nor the equity principle, can continuing economic growth be made compatible with requirements of climate stabilization in all three regions. This conclusion does not change significantly when plausible acceleration of emissions intensity reduction in the future is taken into account. To limit global warming to not more than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, at least two of the three large regions need to reorganize their economies to operate with zero or negative growth. Such a reorganization cannot be achieved under a capitalist economic system given the inherent tendency of capitalism towards endless accumulation. Neither is it likely to be achieved under any conceivable economic system dominated by market relations.

Author Biography

Minqi Li, University of Utah

University of Utah, Dep. of Economics



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How to Cite
Li, M. (2020). Anthropocene, Emissions Budget, and the Structural Crisis of the Capitalist World-System. Journal of World-Systems Research, 26(2), 288-317.
Special Issue: World-Systems Analysis in the Anthropocene