Global Warming and Global Politics

By Matthew Paterson | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

Conclusions

The argument of the book has traversed a series of debates. I suggested how, within a neorealist-liberal institutionalist debate, institutionalism provides a significantly more adequate account of interstate cooperation over global warming. Neither realist analyses based purely on power, or those based on anarchy, are adequate as an explanation for outcomes. While the assumption of anarchy yields a useful basic assumption about why cooperation may be difficult, liberal institutionalists also hold this assumption. Further, institutionalists’ emphasis on how institutions themselves become important in terms of affecting outcomes was clearly demonstrated in relation to global warming.

The next debate, however, is between rationalist and constructivist theories of international relations. Here, I suggested that a constructivist account gives more plausible interpretations of global warming. When examining states’ actions, an interpretation which suggests that they are rational actors in the sense outlined by rational choice theory is less plausible than an interpretation which suggests they are role-players and reflexive about their goals. This argument was then developed concerning the politics of science, where I suggested that the ‘discursive practices’ argument adopted by Litfin gives a more plausible interpretation of this than does the ‘epistemic communities’ approach of Haas and others. Peter Haas’s approach, while useful, still operates with an assumption that scientific consensus is a prerequisite for interstate cooperation, rather than science providing a set of resources for various actors which could just as easily produce as resolve conflict. This perspective also usefully supplements a more general constructivist approach by providing plausible explanations of agenda-setting, and of the constitution of state interests and identities.

Finally, however, historical materialism was introduced. This introduces political economy into the analysis. It enables us to explain the

-178-

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Global Warming and Global Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Series Editors' Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Historical Development of Climate on the International Agenda 16
  • Chapter 3 - Before and After Rio 49
  • Chapter 4 - The Politics Behind the Negotiations 72
  • Chapter 5 - Anarchy, the State and Power 91
  • Chapter 6 - Cooperation and Institutions 114
  • Chapter 7 - Science, Politics and Global Warming 134
  • Chapter 8 - A Political Economy of Global Warming 157
  • Chapter 9 - Conclusions 178
  • Notes 186
  • Bibliography 204
  • Index 224
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