On Wednesday 6 June 2017, JESC hosted a conference entitled Three Narratives of Capitalism: Inclusive Transformation, Modernisation and Megatrends. Held at the Chapel for Europe, the keynote lecture was given by one of the world’s leading climate economists, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany). Following Prof. Edenhofer’s informative and thought-provoking presentation, JESC acting director Martin Maier SJ chaired a panel lively discussion in which Klaus Buchner MEP and Andrea Tilche (acting director of the Environment Directorate of DG Research & Innovation) responded to Prof. Edenhofer.

Prof. Edenhofer set out his view that creating inclusive transformations to meet future challenges, especially those posed by climate change, must entail a triangle of transformations: societal, energy-technological, and economic. He analysed the way in which capitalism and growth can be viewed through the perspective of exploitation and alienation, and that there is a correlation between materialism and loss of meaning. Furthermore, a fragmentation of “moral tribes” has led to disenchantment with current political models.

During the panel debate, Klaus Buchner proposed that it is necessary that we think beyond states and focus on stakeholders. Meanwhile Andrea Tilche spoke of the way in which we are overwhelmed by short-termism in politics. In this regard, Martin Maier proposed that Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ is a very powerful resource for facilitating a deeper conversation about the necessary paradigm shift to bring about social, economic and political transformations.