Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Neoliberalism, political action on climate change and the youth of Aotearoa New Zealand: a space for radical activism

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posted on 2021-11-13, 23:06 authored by Moon, Emma

Climate change exists both as a symptom and as a cause of many social ills. It is as urgent as it is complex. Climate change is being addressed internationally through mechanisms heavily influenced by neoliberal globalisation and based around market mechanisms for the trading of carbon dioxide as a commodity, such as the Kyoto Protocol. This has contributed to increasing de-politicisation of the climate change issue. Contestation of neoliberal solutions to climate change has resulted in the birth of climate justice principles which unite action against the systemic causes of climate change. At the heart of action on climate change are young people- historically active citizens and advocates for radical change. In the context of de-politicisation and a post-political carbon consensus, young activists have been influenced by dominant neoliberal discourse. This research will explore the repercussions of a post-political carbon consensus in producing youth-led spaces of contestation in Aotearoa New Zealand. The case study for this research, youth-driven organisation Generation Zero, advocates for post-political carbon consensus by running campaigns on changes to the national Emissions Trading Scheme and other policy-based work. In this thesis, I will describe the extent to which young people within Generation Zero are influenced by the neoliberal discourse and the implications this has for the role of climate justice and radical activism. This research will contribute to the literature around the de-politicisation of climate change as it describes the impact that this has on youth activism and thus the opportunity for future spaces of dissent.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Environmental Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Bond, Sophie