Ecological Modernisation and its shortcomings
Julie LaFrance, Aalborg University, Denmark
Post.grad. theme #3: Problems with emerging research methodologies related to sustainable development

In this paper, the author is reflecting on the shortcomings of Ecological Modernization Theory and its inability to address two key requirements necessary for ecological modernization in the Brazilian forestry industry. One of the central challenges in the Brazilian industry is the need to address the dematerialization of production and consumption. Current evidence demonstrates that, while the Brazilian industry has been successful in achieving many of the requirements for ecological modernization, the industry is taking advantage of the savings resulting from energy and eco-efficiency to justify increases in overall productivity. Brazilian forestry production continues to outpace the significant improvements in resource efficiency leading to an overall increase in environmental impact.

The second failure of Ecological Modernization Theory is its inability to effectively address the behaviour of the small and medium sized businesses in the forestry industry. Since most of the pressures for the Brazilian industry to ecologically modernize have come from global buyers of exported products, the majority of the smaller forestry businesses that supply the domestic market are not subscribing to the changes taking place in large, Brazilian export-driven corporations. These failures of Ecological Modernization Theory will be reviewed in this paper and the author will discuss the validity of the theory in achieving ecological sustainability.

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