New Report: “A New Wave of European Climate and Energy Policy: Towards a 2030 Framework”

Hanrahan, G., (2013). A New Wave of European Climate and Energy Policy: Towards a 2030 Framework. Dublin, Ireland:  The Institute of International and European Affairs, 1-17.

Introduction: In the heady days of 2007, when climate change was climbing the political and public agendas, EU leaders committed to the ambitious trio of 20-20-20 headline climate and energy targets, to be delivered by 2020. This political commitment, formalised in the 2008 Climate and Energy Package, was designed to have normative force and demonstrate the EU’s climate leadership in the run up to the critical 2009 Copenhagen Conference.

Six years on, however, the landscape has changed dramatically. Political capital in Europe is consumed by the economic crisis and recovery efforts; climate has fallen down the list of political priorities globally; the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – the EU’s flagship climate protection instrument – is in turmoil; global investment in renewable energy fell in 2012; the unconventional oil and gas revolution in the US is driving a coal rush in Europe and casting EU high energy prices into sharp relief; momentum has not built around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and there is a shortfall in delivering the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target.

Nevertheless, significant progress has been made in beginning the low carbon transformation of Europe’s economy. Emission reductions are on track and the 2020 target looks set to be over-delivered, though much of this success is a result of economic stagnation. The rollout of renewable energy is also proceeding apace, aided by the decreasing cost of renewable technologies, which is in turn associated with economies of scale in Chinese manufacturing in particular. Member States have made a political commitment to 80-95% decarbonisation by 2050 and the European Commission’s Low Carbon, Energy and Transport Roadmaps to 2050 have begun to articulate what is possible in this respect. Many Member States are also busy setting out decarbonisation agendas, with the German Energiewende perhaps the best-known example.

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New Article: “The Relationship between Personal Experience and Belief in the Reality of Global Warming”

Myers, T.A. et al.(2013). The Relationship between Personal Experience and Belief in the Reality of Global Warming. Nature Climate Change. 3: 343-347.

Abstract: In this paper, we address the chicken-or-egg question posed by two alternative explanations for the relationship between perceived personal experience of global warming and belief certainty that global warming is happening: Do observable climate impacts create opportunities for people to become more certain of the reality of global warming, or does prior belief certainty shape people’s perceptions of impacts through a process of motivated reasoning? We use data from a nationally representative sample of Americans surveyed first in 2008 and again in 2011; these longitudinal data allow us to evaluate the causal relationships between belief certainty and perceived experience, assessing the impact of each on the other over time. Among the full survey sample, we found that both processes occurred: ‘experiential learning’, where perceived personal experience of global warming led to increased belief certainty, and ‘motivated reasoning’, where high belief certainty influenced perceptions of personal experience. We then tested and confirmed the hypothesis that motivated reasoning occurs primarily among people who are already highly engaged in the issue whereas experiential learning occurs primarily among people who are less engaged in the issue, which is particularly important given that approximately 75% of American adults currently have low levels of engagement.

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New Article: ‘Multi-Level Governance: Opportunities and Barriers in Moving to a Low-Carbon Scotland’

Sugden, D. et al. (2013). Multi-Level Governance: Opportunities and Barriers in Moving to a Low-Carbon Scotland. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 1-12

Abstract: In view of the challenge posed by climate change and the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, The Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry(2011) examined the barriers making it difficult for Scotland to change to a low-carbon society. The single most important finding is that, whilst widely desired, change is held back by the lack of coherence and integration of policy at different levels of governance. There is activity at the level of the EU, UK Government, Scottish Government, local authorities, local communities, households and civil society, but there is often a disconnection between policies at different levels. This impedes progress and also leads to mistrust among the general public. This paper brings together the background to ten primary recommendations featured in the Inquiry addressing the principal barriers. Above all, it is important to integrate the activities within city regions and to exploit opportunities in local communities. Reflecting on the Inquiry findings, we stress the economic, social and environmental opportunities to be gained from a low-carbon society and outline the step changes that need to take place within governance, city regions and local authorities and civil society.

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New Book: ‘Post-Kyoto Climate Governance: Confronting the Politics of Scale, Ideology and Knowledge’

Zia, A. (2013). Post-Kyoto Climate Governance: Confronting the Politics of Scale, Ideology and Knowledge. Routledge

Description: In the midst of human-induced global climate change, powerful industrialized nations and rapidly industrializing nations are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Even if we arrive at a Hubbert’s peak for oil extraction in the 21st century, the availability of technologically recoverable coal and natural gas will mean that fossil fuels continue to be burned for many years to come, and our civilization will have to deal with the consequences far into the future. Climate change will not discriminate between rich and poor nations, and yet the UN-driven process of negotiating a global climate governance regime has hit serious roadblocks.

This book takes a trans-disciplinary perspective to identify the causes of failure in developing an international climate policy regime and lays out a roadmap for developing a post-Kyoto (post-2012) climate governance regime in the light of lessons learned from the Kyoto phase. Three critical policy analytical lenses are used to evaluate the inherent complexity of designing post-Kyoto climate policy: the politics of scale; the politics of ideology; and the politics of knowledge. The politics of scale lens focuses on the theme of temporal and spatial discounting observed in human societies and how it impacts the allocation of environmental commons and natural resources across space and time. The politics of ideology lens focuses on the themes of risk and uncertainty perception in complex, pluralistic human societies. The politics of knowledge lens focuses on the themes of knowledge and power dynamics in terms of governance and policy designs, such as marketization of climate governance observed in the Kyoto institutional regime.

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New Book: ‘Climate Change: An Encyclopedia of Science and History’

Black, B. et al. (2013). Climate Change: An Encyclopedia of Science and History. ABC-CLIO

Description: This book provides a holistic consideration of climate change that goes beyond pure science, fleshing out the discussion by considering cultural, historical, and policy-driven aspects of this important issue.

Living patterns in the developed world have fueled the rapid pace of changes to our climate. The science underlying climate change has been understood by the scientific community for hundreds of years; as such, most developed nations have a strategy for mitigating the impacts of these changes. In the United States, however, our reluctance to accept the reality of climate change threatens our nation’s ability to adapt.

Climate change is a controversial topic that promises to reframe rudimentary ideas about our world and how we will live in it. The articles inClimate Change: An Encyclopedia of Science and History are designed to inform readers’ decision making through the insight of scholars from around the world, each of whom brings a unique approach to this topic. The work goes beyond pure science to consider other important factors, weighing the cultural, historical, and policy-driven contributors to this issue. In addition, the book explores the ideas that have converged and evolved in order to clarify our current predicament.

By considering climate change in this holistic fashion, this reference collection will prepare readers to consider the issue from every angle. Each article in the work is suitable for general readers, particularly students in high school and college, and is intended to inform and educate anyone about climate change, providing valuable information regarding the stages of mitigation and adaptation that are occurring all around us.

• Contributions from more than 100 experts
• Excerpts from reports from international organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
• Transcripts of speeches from world leaders on the climate change issue
• Sidebars on the “climate-history connection” explore the possible links between climate and key events through history, such as the Classical Maya collapse
• Essential, annotated primary sources
• Quotes from policy makers, scientists, eyewitnesses to climate change, and social and cultural leaders

• Provides not only scientific details but also the historical background and the intellectual, cultural, and political contexts of the issue
• Presents information that prepares readers for an inevitable future

For more information click here.

New Article: ‘Ecosystem services management: an integrated approach’

Wang, S et al. (2013). Ecosystem services management: an integrated approach. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2013.01.003. 

Abstract: Attracting professionals from diverse disciplines, the ecosystem services conceptual framework with integrative character strives to provide a solution to the drastic decline of the natural resources of our planet. Nonetheless, losses of ecosystem services accelerate more rapidly than ever. As humans interact with nature, increasing their global presence in both scale and intensity, the need for a new macroeconomic world emerges. This world should be based on an integration of nature and society (nature-societal) or society and ecosystems (socio-ecosystem), which will facilitate the transition toward sustainable ecosystem services management. Achieving this new macroeconomic economic paradigm would require redesigning a new thought process that embraces ecosystem services as precious goods, rather than unlimited and free, unappreciated resources. Market and government are not sufficient for this new macro-economics, in which ecosystem services are its main content. We suggest an integrated set of market, government, and human values to manage ecosystem services, as traditional, narrow, economic, political and scientific solutions alone do not adequately address the sustainable use of natural ecosystems. Culture, created from human values which, to a certain extent, can be influenced or directed, has the capacity to influence the interactions between nature, social and economic systems. The ancient Chinese philosophy of ‘unity of man with nature’ provides principles which can guide and develop human values into a new, positive force with the potential to harmoniously manage sustainable ecosystem services.

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New Article: ‘Deceitful Tongue: Is Climate Change Denial a Crime?’

Tucker, W.C. (2012). Deceitful Tongues: Is Climate Change Denial a Crime? Ecology Law Quarterley. 39: 831-892.  

Abstract: The consequences of global warming and associated climate changes are now apparent. No longer can there be any doubt that anthropogenic (human-caused) warming of the Earth is happening, caused mainly by greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide, from burning fossil fuels. Climate change poses a grave threat to humankind. The world is already experiencing the consequences of global warming: more frequent and prolonged droughts, increasingly severe and more frequent storms, rising sea levels worldwide threatening coastal and vulnerable island populations, the melting of mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets, increased intensity of tropical cyclones and hurricanes, and more frequent and widespread fires. Without immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, climate change can only get worse. In the period since the issue of global warming was brought to the attention of the general public in the late 1980s, both the legislative and the executive branches of the United States government have launched a number of initiatives to assess the threat and formulate policies to address it. Nevertheless, two decades later the United States government has failed to take effective measures to address climate change domestically or to assert international leadership on achieving meaningful carbon emission reductions. It is now well-documented that a shift in public opinion and failure of political will on climate change took place at the turn of the millennium, a change which can be largely attributed to a sophisticated, nationwide public relations campaign designed to conceal the dangers of burning fossil fuels from the American public by deceiving it as to the true state of climate science. Yet this deception is arguably punishable as criminal fraud under several United States statutes: first, as defrauding the public under the generic mail/wire fraud statute; and second, as defrauding the United States government under the “conspiracy to defraud the United States” statute. This Article examines whether it can be regarded as a crime based not just upon the unethical motives of its perpetrators, but on its effects: the catastrophic, global devastation which is the likely outcome of its success.

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New Article: ‘Rational Climate Mitigation Goals’

Björnberg, K.E. (2013). Rational Climate Mitigation Goals. Energy Policy. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.12.057

Abstract: The overall goal of the UNFCCC is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. In policy practice, this goal is mainly operationalized through three types of mitigation targets: emission, atmospheric concentration and temperature targets. The typical function of climate mitigation goals is to regulate action towards goal achievement. This is done in several ways. Mitigation goals help the structuring of the greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement action, over time and between agents; they constitute a standard against which GHG abatement can be assessed and evaluated; they motivate climate conscious behavior; and discourage defection from cooperative abatement regimes. Although the three targets clearly relate to one another, there could be differences in how well they fulfill these functions. In this article, the effectiveness of emission, concentration and temperature targets in guiding and motivating action towards the UNFCCC’s overall aim is analyzed using a framework for rational goal evaluation developed by Edvardsson and Hansson (2005) as an analytical tool. It is argued that to regulate action effectively, mitigation goals should ideally satisfy four criteria: precision, evaluability, attainability and motivity. Only then can the target fulfill its typical function, i.e., to guide and motivate action in a way that facilitates goal achievement.

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New Article: ‘The Paradox of “Acting Globally While Thinking Locally”: Discordance in Climate Change Adaption Policy’

Mazmanian, D.A. et al. (2013). The Paradox of “Acting Globally While Thinking Locally”: Discordance in Climate Change Adaption Policy. Journal of Environment & Development. DOI: 10.1177/1070496512471947

Abstract: The paradox motivating this article is why California has acted globally by enacting a comprehensive mitigation policy to reduce the emissions of Greenhouse gases, a true public good since the benefits will be shared across the planet, but has not mustered the will to act locally through the adoption of an equally comprehensive adaptation policy for the state to protect its own public and private assets and interests. We attempt to explain the paradox by identifying what it is that differentiates climate change adaptation from mitigation, both substantively and politically. The paradox notwithstanding, we identify several imaginable adaptation policies and strategies that would be commensurate with individual and collective self-interested behavior.

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Table of Contents Alert: Transnational Environmental Law 1 (2)

See below for some of the latest publications in Transnational Environmental Law 1 (2):

Transnational Dimensions of Climate Governance
Thijs Etty, Veerle Heyvaert, Cinnamon Carlarne, Dan Farber, Jolene Lin and Joanne Scott
No Abstract

Climate Change Law in an Era of Multi-Level Governance
Jacqueline Peel, Lee Godden and Rodney J. Keenan
Abstract: As international negotiations struggle to deliver timely, binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to safe levels, the environmental legal community has begun to contemplate the scope for climate governance ‘beyond’ the international climate change regime. Many see merit in a more decentralized, disaggregated approach, operating across multiple governance levels. This article examines the development of climate change law in an era of multi-level governance. It analyzes several case studies of current manifestations of multi-level governance in climate change law, including the fragmented global emissions trading system, developing arrangements governing forests and land-based sinks, the growth of climate litigation establishing transnational liability principles, efforts to ensure adaptation to unavoidable climate change, and the emergence in federal systems of a decentralized approach to climate change regulation. The article concludes by considering whether the emerging multi-level system of climate governance is adequate to meet broader international goals of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Towards a Legal Framework for Coastal Adaptation: Assessing the First Steps in Europe and Australia
Jonathan Verschuuren and Jan McDonald
Abstract: In light of the urgent need for coastal adaptation policies and the impediments to their implementation, this article examines the early experience with coastal adaptation policies in the EU (in particular the Netherlands and the UK) and Australia, with a view to identifying the important features of an effective regulatory framework for coastal adaptation. We conclude that an integrated approach to coastal adaptation law is currently needed to lay the foundations for the required long-term strategy. Such an approach would establish processes by which adaptation objectives are agreed for each part of the coast, ensure land use planning that can accommodate future change and does not expose new communities to risk, integrate coastal adaptation with biodiversity and coastal zone policy, allocate regulatory responsibility in a way that promotes subsidiarity and consistency, and ensure that funds are available for future measures.

Defining Emissions Entitlements in the Constitution of the EU Emissions Trading System
Sabina Manea
Abstract: The European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is the largest mandatory programme of its kind. The entitlements in emissions allowances (emissions entitlements) combine public and private law characteristics: allowances are tradable, commercially valuable regulatory instruments. This dual nature reveals a new interdependency between public and private law mechanisms in the context of climate change policy. This article argues that achieving the requisite level of emissions reductions is contingent on the viability of the emissions market, and that both are dependent on the definition of emissions entitlements. This view is supported by a case study which identifies the practical and serious consequences of the absence of a legal concept of emissions entitlements. The United States (US) Acid Rain Program offers useful lessons on the treatment of emissions entitlements. They can be further defined by analogy with similar rights regimes. Their nature is highly relevant to the emissions market, particularly to the commercial contracts that constitute it.


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