Climate Governance at the Crossroads: Experimenting with a Global Response after Kyoto

Climate Governance at the Crossroads: Experimenting with a Global Response after Kyoto

Climate Governance at the Crossroads: Experimenting with a Global Response after Kyoto

Climate Governance at the Crossroads: Experimenting with a Global Response after Kyoto

Synopsis

The global response to climate change has reached a critical juncture. Since the 1992 signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the nations of the world have attempted to address climate change through large-scale multilateral treaty-making. These efforts have been heroic, but disappointing. As evidence for the quickening pace of climate change mounts the treaty-making process has sputtered, and many are now skeptical about the prospect of an effective global response. Yet global treaty-making is not the only way that climate change can be addressed or, indeed, is being addressed. In the last decade myriad initiatives have emerged across the globe independently from, or only loosely connected to, the "official" UN-sponsored negotiations and treaties. In the face of stalemate in the formal negotiations, the world is experimenting with alternate means of responding to climate change. Climate Governance at the Crossroads chronicles these innovations--how cities, provinces and states, citizen groups, and corporations around the globe are addressing the causes and symptoms of global warming. The center of gravity in the global response to climate change is shifting from the multilateral treaty-making process to the diverse activities found beyond the negotiating halls. These innovations are pushing the envelope of climate action and demonstrating what is possible and they provide hope that the world will respond effectively to the climate crisis. In introducing climate governance "experiments" and examining the development and functioning of this experimental world of climate governance, this book provides an exciting new perspective on the politics of climate change and the means to understand and influence how the global response to climate change will unfold in the coming years.

Excerpt

The research for this book emerged from a confluence of disillusionment and serendipity. I spent most of my early career approaching the study of global environmental politics by examining the multilateral treaty negotiations at the center of the world’s response to environmental challenges like ozone depletion and climate change. But beginning around 2003–2004, I became increasingly disillusioned with the multilateral process both personally and academically. Personally, I was becoming more and more frustrated with and concerned about the lack of progress in the addressing climate change—becoming a new father had brought the problem of climate change home to me in a different light than I had perceived it before and, frankly, I was (and remain) scared of the potential consequences of climate change. Academically, I was frustrated as well. It seemed that academics had adequately diagnosed the reasons collective action was not forthcoming on climate change, but that we of the academy (political scientists, economists, environmental studies scholars), collectively, were having a difficult time breaking through the hold that multilateral treaty-making had on our own and on policy-makers’ imaginations. Fortunately, this was not universally the case. At around the same time, some pioneering studies were beginning to examine the global response to climate change from a broader perspective, and I drew inspiration from much of this work on cities, NGOs, and corporations, as will be obvious in the pages that follow.

Yet it took serendipity to turn my general discontent in something more productive in 2007–2008 One day in the spring of 2007, my morning paper had a story about carbon rationing action groups—small, loosely affiliated groups of people in the United Kingdom (at the time—now the phenomenon has spread to the United States, Canada, and China) that were negotiating and imposing Kyoto Protocol-like restrictions on themselves at an individual level. Here you had extremely micro initiatives drawing on motifs and modes of governance that nation-states employ. This struck a chord with me and was a particularly crystallizing moment. I distinctly remember saying to myself, “They’re . . .

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