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The challenge of sustainabilityLinking politics, education and learning$
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Hugh Atkinson and Ros Wade

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447306467

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447306467.001.0001

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The politics of sustainability:

The politics of sustainability:

democracy and the limits of policy action

(p.43) Two The politics of sustainability
The challenge of sustainability

Stuart Wilks-Heeg

Policy Press

In Chapter Two, Stuart Wilks-Heeg poses the question of whether democracy can deliver sustainability if the achievement of sustainability requires sacrifices that individuals will be required to impose uponthemselves via the ballot box. The chapter argues that there may well be a fundamental tension between representative democracy and policy agendas associated with the reduction of carbon emissions, especially when the latter are interpreted as involving significant individual sacrifice and reduced personal consumption. In the light of this tension, the chapter argues that there are two ways forward for the politics of sustainability. Politicians must either find a means of bringing about a ‘smart’ redesign of society, in which carbon emissions can be curbed without significant personal sacrifice, or they must seek to secure the ‘informed consent’ of citizens to fundamental shifts in their behaviour and lifestyles through a significantly more participatory model of democracy.

Keywords:   democracy, green democracy, sustainability, politics, green authoritarianism, ecology

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