The mad dream of a green energy transition might just be starting to come true, with much of the credit due to stubborn activists, clever engineers and a handful of far-sighted policymakers. But it is also happening for the unlikely reason that it has been redefined as a global capitalist-consumerist project. It realises utopian goals while simultaneously keeping stock markets ticking over, making the rich richer and spreading a general sense of virtue. The system has been able to turn the green energy transition into a set of products—electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines—but the transition to a world of better-treated workers involves systemic changes that are the antithesis of commodification.
The green energy transition, like synergy, is a case where a radical way of thinking that has become co-opted by capitalism.