The Five Capitals Framework
Behind the notion of capitalism lies the notion of capital – which economists use to describe a stock of anything (physical or virtual) from which anyone can extract a revenue or yield. Although it is true that many environmentalists and social justice campaigners remain wary of getting sucked too deep into the working practices and language of capitalism, the premise behind the idea of the Five Capitals Framework is that we can’t reform capitalism without adopting some of its insights, tools and drivers. But most of today’s ‘reform agendas’ (from the progressive left, for instance) simply refuse to face up to some of the issues covered in Part I of this book, unable to confront the challenge of learning to live within non-negotiable biophysical limits. So much for the theory. This chapter then looks brieﬂy at the degree to which the Five Capitals Framework might be of relevance to a country such as China as it races towards becoming both the world’s largest economy and the world’s most terrifying ecological disaster.