Financial crises, environment and transition

Antoniades, Andreas and Antonarakis, Alexander (2022) Financial crises, environment and transition. In: Antoniades, Andreas, Antonarakis, Alexander and Kempf, Isabell (eds.) Financial crises, poverty and environmental sustainability: challenges in the context of the SDGs and covid-19 recovery. Sustainable development goals series . Springer, Cham, pp. 25-43. ISBN 9783030874162

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Restricted to SRO admin only until 2 January 2024.

Download (822kB)


The chapter contributes state-of-the-art perspectives and results for the poorly understood relationship between economic crises and the environment in the context of sustainability transition. We first develop a theoretical perspective on the relationship between crises and the environment using case study evidence from the literature. We point to key parameters such as the nature of each crisis and its context, the degree of socio-environmental resilience, the multiple environment and economic sectors involved, the diverse temporality of effects, the capacity of the countries involved, and the policy responses adopted. In the second part of the paper, we present evidence on the environmental impact of more than 400 financial crises during the period 1970–2015, focusing on atmospheric emissions, deforestation and biodiversity. We complement this analysis with evidence on the environmental impact of the Great Stagnation, i.e. the period of slower growth rates following the global financial crisis of 2008/09. Our findings demonstrate that financial crises do not have a unidirectional effect on the environment. We find short-term benefits to air pollution, decreases in biodiversity and some evidence of decreasing deforestation rates. Benefits can be short-lived, though, and may be accompanied by shifts in the involved actors’ practices and behaviours that lead to negative longer-term impacts. Neither is the Great Stagnation associated with a unidirectional environmental impact, and there is worrying evidence of a worsening of biodiversity. We conclude that a slowdown in economic growth rates –even a prolonged one that acquires the characteristics of a ‘new normal’ does not inevitably lead to environmental improvement. Meeting the SDGs and transitioning to sustainability requires a paradigmatic policy shift that goes beyond a narrow focus on the rate of economic growth.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Financial Crises, Great Stagnation, Environmental Sustainability, Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Forests, Deforestation, Sustainability Transition
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Sustainability Research Programme
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2022 09:17
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 09:54

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update