Category: News

The Transformation of Capitalism In response to challenges of Inequality and the Global Environment

The Transformation of Capitalism

In response to challenges of Inequality and the Global Environment

Graciela Chichilnisky

Stanford CA, June 2015
Capitalism is the leading force in the world economy. Its extraordinary success during the last half century led to ebullient and sustained economic growth that improved the lives of many. At the same time the global expansion of capitalism exposed physical limits in the use of natural resources, and led to unprecedented levels of inequality throughout the world. These two critical topics – inequality and the global environment – dominate the global discourse today. The intensity and the scope of the debate anticipate a transformation. Faced with its own limits, capitalism is now changing in front of our eyes. Can capitalism overcome widespread poverty and inequality? Can it satisfy the basic needs of the masses? Can markets become sustainable?
The book documents the trends that drive the transformation of capitalism and provides a vision of its future. It aims to help us navigate a bewildering period of change and to provide a step by step approach to how we got here, the forces underlying the world’s extreme levels of inequality and the environmental challenges of our times. We view inequality and the environmental crisis as two symptoms of the same problem. The connection between the two is real and is critical to overcome them both. The book anticipates emerging solutions and provides an overall vision of how capitalism is transforming itself to accommodate the need for change.
In a way capitalism is always transforming itself. The key to today’s transformation lies in its ability to adapt to a world-wide change in the main inputs of production. Inputs of production play a key role in human economic development. During the course of human history the key inputs of production were always private goods such as land in the agricultural society and capital in the industrial society. In this century however the most important inputs of production are radically different: they are public goods such as knowledge, the atmosphere, the oceans, and biodiversity. Knowledge and environmental assets acquired increasing importance as inputs of production when the overuse of natural resources limited their availability and increased their value thus encouraging the creation of knowledge or technology that could substitute for scarce and costly resources. Today capital is no longer the main input of production: the input that gave its name to capitalism is now on the wane. In our century the main inputs of production are not even private goods like capital or land that are rival in consumption: your land cannot be mine, your capital cannot be mine. Today’s inputs are different, they are naturally shared and are not rival in consumption. They are global public goods such as knowledge and the global environmental resources on which our species depends to survive. Knowledge is a public good because it can be shared without losing it; the planet’s atmosphere, its water bodies and its biodiversity are one and the same for us all.
As a result of this monumental shift, we are no longer captive to the logic of who owns capital or land, nor to the standard political notions of “left” vs “right”. The Marxist question of “who owns capital” is interesting but has lost its edge. The separation between socialism and capitalism is blurred and no longer the critical issue in the agenda. The critical issue for the human species now is how to survive.
The book reviews the main issues arising from the process of transformation of capitalism: how it adapts to a new type of input in the 21st century, and the attendant changes in its core institution, namely the market. The main inputs today are unusual public goods that are produced privately: they are not produced by governments, like bridges and the army.
In any case, the difference between private and public inputs is profound and changes everything. Today’s markets trade knowledge goods as their most important merchandise, for example software is India’s most important export, consumer electronics led China’s rise and financial services are the US and the UK most important exports. The global scarcity of water and the challenges to the atmosphere write a new chapter in human development. This trend is leading to the creation of new global markets for the use of the atmosphere and for water, and and we predict also markets for the use of biodiversity. These new markets trade public rather than private goods: for example, the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol (EUETS) trades a public good, the right to use the planet’s atmosphere to emit carbon. Similarly, water markets are emerging across the globe in response to water scarcity. Markets that trade public goods have a different structure and a different behavior than the classic markets for private goods. The new markets have unusual features that did not exist before. For example traditional markets have always been “zero sum games” where the gains of one trader are the losses of others. This is not so in markets involving public goods. In the new markets the situation is different. For example in economies with knowledge, which is a public good, one often finds free goods such as email services, “apps”, and free access to music or to videos. Both the user and the seller gain from offering goods for free while, in traditional markets, there is no room for free goods and they never existed. As a result of the current change from private to public inputs of production, capitalism is evolving in a more cooperative direction, and the zero sum game or “dog eats dog” market mentality is slowly being replaced by cooperative solutions where free goods and the attendant redistribution of wealth can redress inequality.
Similarly the introduction of limits on the use of global public goods such as the planet’s atmosphere, its bodies of water, and its biodiversity lead to new markets that mimic the carbon market and extend it into new areas such as water and biodiversity. Cooperation between the traders is now possible and even desirable. The book covers this transformation and provides a vision of the future of the world economy. It offers a realistic view of the current state of development of capitalism and points towards its future transformation. The change is driven by the need to arrest the overuse and destruction of natural resources that are critically needed for human survival, and by the closely connected issue of inequality in the use of the world’s resources.
The book starts from a brief historical perspective that sets the scene. During its short life on earth, the human species evolved rapidly becoming today the dominant geological force in the planet, and leading to a period known by archeologists as the Anthropocene. This period emerged in 1945 at the end of World War II and replaced the Holocene. During the new geological period humans came to dominate the geology of the planet: its atmosphere, bodies of water and the complex web of species that makes life on earth. During this period capitalism emerged as the world’s leading economic force propelling and reorganizing international trade and the global economy, and leading to what we now call globalization. The first global financial institutions, known as the Bretton Woods institutions, were created when the war ended to reorganize world finance, succeeding beyond anyone’s imagination: The International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, The World Trade Organization, and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development. With the destruction of Germany and Japan, USA became 50% of the world economy after the war, naturally making the USA the leader within these global institutions. This confluence of historic events created a dollar-denominated world and a pattern of economic development that imitated the USA as a frontier society with intensive and extensive use of natural resources. During this period colonialism ended, but the Bretton Woods institutions encouraged and presided over a world where market colonialism took its place. Natural resources exported under unfavorable conditions by poor nations were avidly consumed in rich nations, a form of development that was advocated by the Bretton Woods institutions and prevented poor nations from developing. It led to an extravagant overuse of natural resources across the world – prominently fossil fuels, and to climate change. This is the genesis of the global environmental crisis of our times. Asian nations escaped market colonialism by specializing in consumer electronics and industrial goods and were able to grow, 2. Inequality and poverty are exacerbated in nations that export of raw materials, and poverty in turn weakens the bargaining position of poor nations who export raw materials. It is a vicious cycle that trapped South America and Africa which remain mostly resource exporters and did not grow: 70% of the exports from South America are raw materials today and 90% of the exports from Africa are too. In this process global poverty and inequality go hand in hand with the overuse of natural resources, they are both two sides of the same coin. Overcoming one requires overcoming the other. In simple terms, global inequality and the environmental crisis of our times are creatures of market colonialism and globalization that the Bretton Woods institutions encouraged since WWII. The transformation of capitalism is a response to the limits that this global process created. Faced with its own limits, capitalism is now changing in front of our eyes. The book tells the story of how we got here, how capitalism is now transforming itself to adapt to the changes it unleashed and to overcome unsustainable inequality and the global environmental crisis of our times. These are challenges to human survival and two faces of the same coin. Green capitalism can overcome both.

Graciela Chichilnisky backs fossil fuel occupation


She’s a massive deal

Household name Dr Graciela Chichilnisky has agreed to speak in favour of Edinburgh’s fossil fuel divestment.

She’s set to deliver a talk at the uni and turn up to support the occupation in Charles Stewart House.

Furious students and staff have blasted gas-guzzling uni chiefs for not divesting from fossil fuels and have since occupied the finance building.

Dr Chichilnisky has agreed to voice her support at a talk at the Buchanan Institute, Scotland’s only student-led think tank.

She was a key member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Incoming EUSA President Jonny Ross-Tatam and CEO of the Buchanan Institute said: “Just so you all know, Dr Graciela Chichilnisky, Nobel Prize winning economist, world-leader on tackling climate change and CEO of a green technology company is coming to the University on Friday.

“And she’s agreed to make a pitch for the divestment campaign live and in front of some of the university’s top brass.”

In a comment on the post, Jonny also said Dr Chichilnisky will visit the site of the occupation itself.

The EUSA sabbatical officers have also come out in support of the occupation.

In a statement signed by all four sabbs, they assured the occupation had their support.

It read: “As of this morning we were alerted via social media to the occupation of Charles Stewart House by People and Planet, in response to the University’s decision to partially divest from fossil fuel companies and all companies who produce high carbon emissions.

“We are in total agreement with People & Planet’s ultimate aim of full divestment and have always supported their activism in line with this.

“Once again we extend our solidarity to those in occupation and will be visiting with provisions.”

Occupiers have also started to set up camp outside Charles Stewart House.

Graciela Chichilnisky Selected As 2015 CEO of the Year Global Thermostat Wins Award for Leadership in Sustainability

Graciela Chichilnisky Selected As 2015 CEO of the Year

Global Thermostat Wins Award for Leadership in Sustainability

NEW YORK—Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky was recently selected by IAIR® (International Alternative Investment Review), one of the fastest growing magazines worldwide concerning the global economy and sustainability, as the 2015 CEO of the Year in Sustainability. Her company, Global Thermostat, was also named Best Company for Sustainability in the “Clean Energy Solutions” category for its business model, which captures carbon from air and transforms it into cash.

Dr. Chichilnisky accepted both honors during the IAIR Awards Global Roadshow on April 16 at The Yale Club of New York City. This news comes on the heels of Global Thermostat’s selection by global business magazine Fast Company as one of “The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Energy.”

Global Thermostat CEO and co-founder Graciela Chichilnisky is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of economics and climate change. In addition to creating and designing the carbon market within the Kyoto Protocol, Dr. Chichilnisky acted as a lead author of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Dr. Chichilnisky is a professor of Economics and Mathematical Statistics at Columbia University, where she also serves as the Director of the Columbia Consortium for Risk Management (CCRM). Dr. Chichilnisky currently resides in Silicon Valley, where she is a Visiting Professor of Economics at Stanford University.

Under Dr. Chichilnisky’s leadership, Global Thermostat has become the world’s lowest-cost producer of carbon dioxide (CO2). The company’s innovative and cost-effective solution uses readily available process heat from industrial facilities to not only remove CO2 from ambient air and other sources, but also to generate renewable power for customers including smelters and refineries. Beyond CO2 capture and storage, Global Thermostat’s breakthrough business model also enables its customers to convert carbon into cash by recycling CO2 as a feedstock for applications including enhanced oil recovery, food and beverage carbonization, algae and fertilizers. Additionally, customers can choose to monetize the compound through tax credits.

Global Thermostat’s process is uniquely designed to eliminate more CO2 from the air than is created, making carbon-negative operations possible at a meaningful scale. The technology has been awarded 10 patents in the U.S., one in Japan, and is patent-pending across 147 additional nations. With a modular design, the technology can be easily retrofitted into facilities’ current operations, or built into new construction plans. Following its successful pilot project with SRI International, the premier technology development campus in Silicon Valley, Global Thermostat recently signed a strategic commercial agreement with Fortune 250 company NRG Energy.

“We are honored to receive these accolades, and remain committed to our quest to turn the energy economy on its head,” said Graciela Chichilnisky, CEO and co-founder of Global Thermostat. “To consistently earn prestigious recognitions for the innovation taking place at Global Thermostat is a testament to the unparalleled importance of developing practical, carbon-negative solutions to climate change.”

The IAIR Awards® are one of the world’s leading prizes for excellence in the global economy and sustainability. Award finalists are determined through an online survey of more than 50,000 IAIR readers worldwide. An expert judging panel, including members of the IAIR’s team of journalists and editors in more than 120 countries, chooses the winners in each category after a thorough vetting process.

A video of the award ceremony is available at:

About Global Thermostat

Global Thermostat (GT) is a disruptive technology company that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from air and other sources and transforms it into cash. Formed in 2010, the company has developed and commercialized a unique, carbon-negative technology that utilizes process heat from industrial activities to simultaneously generate power and capture carbon for reuse and resale in a variety of products, with applications in industries including enhanced oil recovery, food and beverage, algae and fertilizers. Global Thermostat has amassed an exceptional team of experts from the energy, science and climate policy sectors, as well as leaders in engineering, entrepreneurship and business. For more information, please visit


Media Contact

Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky


NY’s Cuomo to Be First Gov. to Visit Cuba as Ties Reopen

NY’s Cuomo to be first gov. to visit Cuba as ties reopen
April 19, 2015


Displayed with permission from The Washington Times


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is heading to Havana, the first American

governor to visit Cuba since the recent thaw in relations with the communist nation. Whether his

trade mission generates anything more than headlines, however, remains to be seen.


The formal state visit on Monday and Tuesday is meant to foster greater ties between New York

and Cuba. Cuomo will be joined by lawmakers and a group of business leaders for what he has

called “a tremendous stepping stone” that will “help open the door to a new market for New York



Trade experts say New York could profit from improved relations with the Caribbean nation.

New York farmers could export apples, powdered milk and other dairy products. Businesses

could invest big in Cuba’s developing information technology infrastructure. Hoteliers could build

resorts to prepare for the increase in American tourists.


Any significant economic relationship with Cuba will take time, according to Joe Schoonmaker,

the chairman of the New York District Export Council who works as a trade risk insurance

broker. He predicted that tourism would be the first sector of the Cuban economy to open up

and that it will be some time before Cuba is engaging in robust trade.


“It’s not going to be like opening up China,” he said. “As far as hundreds of millions of dollars of

products going down to Cuba, I don’t see it at this time. They’re not going to be buying a lot of



Critics say Cuomo’s visit legitimizes a dictatorship and is more about politics than exports. State

Republican Chairman Ed Cox dismissed the trade mission as a political stunt “meant to bolster

his national profile.”


Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose mother is a Cuban exile, said any efforts

to normalize relations must be accompanied by significant concessions from the Castro regime.


“I do not understand the purpose of this trade mission or see any concrete benefit for the state

of New York,” said Malliotakis, who represents portions of Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said that greater engagement with Cuba will “do more

to support the Cuban people and promote our values” than “continuing a policy of isolation

which has failed for the last 50 years.”
Those expected to join Cuomo on the trip include Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the CEOs of

JetBlue and Chobani Greek Yogurt and executives from Pfizer, biopharmaceutical company

Regeneron and a Finger Lakes dairy company.


The U.S. has been exporting limited amounts of food to Cuba for years. If New York does

establish closer economic ties with Cuba, its first ambassadors may be two of its biggest farm

products: dairy and apples. The state is one of the nation’s top producers of both.


“There’s potential there,” said Steve Ammerman of the New York State Farm Bureau. “Any time

we can create another outlet for our farm products and our farmers to make more money, that’s

a good thing for our entire ag economy in New York state.”


As a center of global finance, New York City in particular has even more to gain from Cuba.

Columbia University economics professor Graciela Chichilnisky said Cuomo and other U.S.

leaders may want to consider financial arrangements to encourage trade and investment in



In particular, she identified information technology and biotechnology as two industries that

could be ripe for growth.


“They (Cuba) have at least the beginnings of some very promising developments,” she said.

“But there is nothing wrong with apples. I love apples.”

Remembering my daughter

We are deeply grateful for the flood of messages of love affection and admiration from all over the world that came for Natasha since the shocking news of her untimely death became known on Tuesday night. These heartfelt expressions of love and sorrow are a tribute to a kind and generous human being who was also an intellectual force, as Yale Daily News wrote this week, and a striking, brilliant star. Natasha was just 27 years old but packed extraordinary experiences and lived a life of many, many more years than her natural age.

The Yale Daily News published a beautiful tribute to Natasha, which you can view here.

We would like you to join us celebrating her life on December 2 in New York to share among us the love we all feel in our hearts as she would like it best. Please write to and to let us know when you will join us. We look forwards to welcome you and sharing the feeling of wonder personal engagement and just being alive that we all seem to feel around Natasha and her life.

December 2, 2014

  • 11:00 am we meet at Peter Eisenberger’s residence in Princeton NJ 170 Brooks Bend, where Natasha lived and had so many friends while in high school
  • 12:30 pm we leave for the historic Princeton Cemetery on Witherspoon and Paul Robson Streets to assemble for a service and burial at 2:00pm
  • 5:00 A Memorial will take place at Columbia University at the Skylight Room 4th floor of Columbia Faculty House entering through 116th between Morningside and Amsterdam Ave. Columbia University is where Natasha went to college.
  • 7:00 A celebration of Natasha’s life at West River, 335 Riverside Drive between 106th and 105th streets, the house where Natasha was born and lived.

December 5, 2014

  • 11:00 am A celebration of Natasha’s academic life and a memorial by her teachers and friends at Yale University where since Fall 2013 she was a PhD candidate in Political Economy.

More information will be sent on the Memorial at Yale.

Please RSVP when you will be joining so we may prepare.

From Vice: ‘Pentagon Warns of Immediate National Security Threats From Climate Change’

Vice recently published a story about a new report released by Pentagon officials regarding the national security threat climate change poses for the United States. The article reports:

Rising sea levels, hotter global temperatures, wildly fluctuating precipitation patterns, and more frequent extreme weather systems will likely intensify global instability, hunger, and poverty.

These threats, along with many others, are what we face if we fail to address climate change – and fast.

The Oxford Handbook of the Macroeconomics of Global Warming

I contributed to a new book, The Oxford Handbook of the Macroeconomics of Global Warming. This new book was featured in an article on, “New book examines the macroeconomics of global warming.” My contribution is titled: “The Need for Sustainable Development and a Carbon Market: Avoiding Extinction.” You can read the article from here.

Global Thermostat in the News

I am featured in the October 13, 2014 issue of The New Yorker. The article, titled “Climate Trades,” is by James Surowiecki, and it discusses “developing-world [carbon] emissions.” You can read the full article here.

The Global Thermostat team, including Co-Founder Peter Eisenberger and I, were featured in the MIT Technology Review, in an article titled, “Can Sucking CO2 Out of the Atmosphere Really Work?” You can read that article here.

Did you miss i-SUP 2014? Catch up on the conference

In case you missed the 2014 i-SUP Conference in Antwerp, you can review themes, speakers, photos and more at this website. I presented two presentations – “Avoiding Extinction” and “Closing the Carbon Cycle for Sustainability” – at the conference on September 2, 2014.

Global Thermostat in De Morgen

Graciela Chichilnisky and Global Thermostat appeared in the Brussels-based newspaper, De Morgen, on September 2, 2014. The article covers Graciela’s appearance alongside Richard Branson at the 2014 i-SUP conference. The original article appears in Dutch, but you can view an English translation here.

Graciela Chichilnisky’s 2014 i-SUP Presentations

Graciela Chichilnisky presented two presentations – “Avoiding Extinction” and “Closing the Carbon Cycle for Sustainability” – at the 2014 i-SUP Conference in Brussels on September 2, 2014. You can view the presentations below:

Avoiding Extinction

Closing the Carbon Cycle for Sustainability

Finally, here’s Graciela in the Town Hall of Antwerp – usually closed to the public – where she met with the Mayor of the City of Antwerp:


The 4th Annual i-SUP Conference

Graciela Chichilnisky will attend the 4th annual i-SUP conference this September 1-3, taking place at the Hilton Atwerp in Belgium – organized by VITO and TERI.

She will participate in a CEO roundtable on September 1 at 2 pm CET and give a keynote speech on September 2 at 9:45 am CET as part of the official thematic opening session.

You can view the detailed agenda and background information here.

Global Thermostat in Newsweek

Newsweek recently published an article, “Direct Air Capture Makes Pollution a Cash Cow,” in which Betsy Isaacson covers the work of Global Thermostat and our innovative direct air capture technology. You can view the article here.

Concerning the criticism of DAC in the article:

Graciela Chichilnisky is a major contributor to the IPCC’s reports, knows well the dangers of climate change and is deeply committed to mitigating them as quickly as possible. She is realistic enough to know that while agitation to reduce fossil fuel use is of key importance, we cannot depend solely on that effort to achieve reductions because we’re up against very powerful interests that can delay or derail those efforts at least in the short run. Other, compatible avenues have to be pursued without proponents of each believing that theirs is the only solution and that all others are a distraction. Global Thermostat’s technology takes carbon out of the air now and is an important transition strategy for reducing GHGs while working for a non-fossil energy future. We are lucky enough to also have the support of key investors such as Edgar Bronfman and VICE, and world leading industrial firms such as Corning, DKVeritas, Linde and many others who believe in the technology of Global Thermostat and know its potential as part of the solution to combat climate change.

Where algae and carbon capture merge

Gigaom recently published an article on Algae Systems, a startup that uses algae to create green fuel. Algae Systems has a long-standing relationship with Global Thermostat, and the startup plans to integrate its technology with Global Thermostat’s to build a new plant.

You can read all about Algae Systems and its partnership with Global Thermostat here.

American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) Summit

August 10-13, our Co-Founder & CEO, Graciela Chichilnisky, attended and spoke at the American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) Summit in Aspen, Colorado. Graciela joined world leaders who collectively called for faster progress addressing climate change – one of the greatest threats to mankind.

Anna Shen wrote about the event ahead of time on the HuffPost Green blog. You can read the full article here.


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