Austerity: An environmentally dangerous idea

Authors: Maria Kaika orcid logo (University of Amsterdam) , Rita Calvário orcid logo (University of Coimbra) , Giorgos Velegrakis orcid logo (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

  • Austerity: An environmentally dangerous idea


    Austerity: An environmentally dangerous idea

    Authors: , ,


The article examines austerity as a policy and practice that is dangerous not only for human societies and economies, but also for more-than-human ecologies and lives. Often presented as an economic tool that can 'fix' an economic crisis, austerity nevertheless carries serious environmental consequences which are not systematically documented or theorized. Here, we sketch a political ecology agenda for understanding austerity as environmental politics, focusing on three facets. First, austerity as justification for intensifying environmental destruction in the name of economic recovery. Second, austerity as a catalyst for increasing socio-environmental inequality, exacerbating colonial extractivism, and complexifying North/South binaries. Third, austerity as a socio-environmental condition that can kindle innovative environmental protection movements; but can also exacerbate climate denialism and new forms of 'othering.' The framework we offer here is pertinent at the aftermath of consecutive economic, pandemic, and inflation-induced austerity periods, when aggressive pro-growth agendas fast become normalized as prime recovery strategies. 

Keywords: economic crisis, pandemic, austerity as class politics, North/South binary, post-growth, degrowth

How to Cite:

Kaika, M., Calvário, R. & Velegrakis, G., (2024) “Austerity: An environmentally dangerous idea”, Journal of Political Ecology 31(1), 67–81. doi:

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  • EU-Next Generation EU & Ministerio de Universidades de España (grant Maria Zambrano 2022)
  • Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) (grant 2021.03735.CEECIND/CP1698/CT0002)



Published on
24 Jan 2024
Peer Reviewed