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: “Climate Change: New Dimensions of Environmental Security”

Dalby, S. (2013). Climate Change: New Dimensions of Environmental Security. The RUSI Journal. 158 (3): 34-43.

Abstract: Climate change has added new impetus and urgency to the long-running discussion of environmental security, leading to an emphasis on the overall transformation of planetary systems. In this article, Simon Dalby argues that this requires consideration of three themes in particular: urban vulnerabilities to extreme events; the unforeseen social and political consequences of adaptation and mitigation efforts; and the possibilities of geoengineering. Furthermore, given the increasingly artificial circumstances that the global economy is creating, security planners should now focus on the consequences of further expansion of the carbon-fuelled global economy, rather than on concerns about political instabilities in the rural peripheries caused by resource conflicts.

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New Article: “Public Attitudes to Climate Change and Carbon Mitigation – Implications for Energy-Associated Behaviours”

Von Borgstede, C. (2013). Public Attitudes to Climate Change and Carbon Mitigation – Implications for Energy-Associated Behaviours. Energy Policy. 1-12.

Abstract: This work explores public opinions regarding climate change and mitigation options and examines how psychological factors, such as attitudes, norms, and willingness to pay, determine self-reported energy-efficient behaviour. The aim is to create knowledge for the design and implementation of policy measures. The results of an opinion poll conducted in 2005 and 2010 are compared. The number of respondents favouring new technologies as a way to reduce emissions was substantially lower in 2010 than in 2005, whereas there was an increase in the number of people who acknowledged that lifestyle changes are necessary to counteract climate changes. This indicates an increased awareness among the public of the need for lifestyle changes, which could facilitate implementation of policies promoting environmental behaviour. Renewable energy and energy saving measures were ranked as the top two measures for mitigating climate change in both polls. In determining which energy behaviours of the public are determined by psychological factors, an analysis of the 2010 survey revealed that respondents with pro-environmental attitudes towards global warming favour significantly increased use of renewable energy technologies and greater engagement in energy-efficient behaviours.

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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 Article: ‘”Green” Technology and Ecologically Unequal Exchange: The Environmental and Social Consequences of Ecological Modernization in the World-System’

Bonds, E. & Downey, L. (2012). “Green” Technology and Ecologically Unequal Exchange: The Environmental and Social Consequences of Ecological Modernization in the World-System. American Sociological Association. 18 (2): 167-186.

Abstract: This paper contributes to understandings of ecologically unequal exchange within the world-systems perspective by offering a series of case studies of ecological modernization in the automobile industry. The case studies demonstrate that “green” technologies developed and instituted in core nations often require specific raw materials that are extracted from the periphery and semi-periphery. Extraction of such natural resources causes significant environmental degradation and often displaces entire communities from their land. Moreover, because states often use violence and repression to facilitate raw material extraction, the widespread commercialization of “green” technologies can result in serious human rights violations. These findings challenge ecological modernization theory, which rests on the assumption that the development and commercialization of more ecologically-efficient technologies is universally beneficial.

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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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