This chapter explores the explanations which might be offered to account for the international politics of global warming by arguments from within historical materialism. It suggests that, at least as a starting point, this provides a significantly more convincing interpretation of the empirical material covered in the book, than do the positions covered in the last three chapters. l
Three arguments drawn from the literature of historical materialism will be used. The examination of the relationship between the state and capital accumulation in the state theory of Bob Jessop gives a basic set of conceptual tools with which to start looking at what determines states’ policies on global warming, while the Gramscian focus on hegemony, developed in IR by Stephen Gill and others, helps to avoid the tendency towards deterministic analyses often found in this perspective. Next, the literature on changes within capitalism, such as the move from ‘Fordism’ to ‘flexible accumulation’ as outlined, for example, by David Harvey (1990), and on the general phenomenon of globalisation, helps explain some of the constraints on state actions on climate change. Finally, international political economy (IPE) based in historical materialism gives the most plausible framework for analysing the North-South conflict within the climate negotiations. The overall argument will be that this framework provides a more adequate starting point for explaining the politics of the Climate Convention than do the theories examined in the previous three chapters.
Historical materialism treats capitalist societies as unstable, due to their basic contradictions. Consequently, the reproduction of those societies is something which has to be consciously sought. Harvey (1990:180) gives