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In what ways is climate change political? This book addresses this key - but oddly neglected - question. It argues that in order to answer it we need to understand politics in a three-fold way: as a site of authoritative, public decision-making; as a question of power; and as a conflictual phenomenon. Recurring themes center on de- and re-politicization, and a tension between attempts to simplify climate change to a single problem and its intrinsic complexity. These dynamics are driven by processes of capital accumulation and their associated subjectivities. The book explores these arguments through an analysis of a specific city - Ottawa - which acts as a microcosm of these broader processes. It provides detailed analyses of conflicts over urban planning, transport, and attempts by city government and other institutions to address climate change. The book will be valuable for students and researches looking at the politics of climate change.
Towards a Cultural Politics of Climate Change provides a new perspective on how climate change matters in policy-making, business and everyday life. It argues that the work of low carbon transitions takes place through the creation of devices, the mobilisation of desires, and the articulation of dissent. Using case studies from the US, Australia, and Europe, the book examines the creation and contestation of new forms of cultural politics - of how a climate-changed society is articulated, realized and contested. Through this approach it opens up questions about how, where and by whom climate politics is conducted and the ways in which we might respond differently to this societal challenge. This book provides a key reference point for the emerging academic community working on the cultural politics of climate change, and a means through which to engage this new area of research with the broader social sciences.
Whose responsibility is it to tackle climate change? ‘Everyone’s and no one’s’, we might glibly reply. Responsibility is diffused across scales, social groups, sectors, countries and generations. The causes of climate change are implicated in everyday acts of production and consumption and relate to the ways in which societies organise their transportation, housing, energy, water and food systems. Recognising the complex and diffuse agencies and authorities that address climate change, the world of climate politics is no longer limited to the activities of national governments, international organisations and interstate bargaining between states. Increasingly, subnational governments, non-governmental organisations, businesses and individuals are taking responsibility into their own hands, experimenting with bold new approaches to the governance of climate change (Betsill & Bulkeley 2004; Andonova, Betsill & Bulkeley 2009; Selin & VanDeveer 2009b; Bulkeley & Newell 2010; Hoffmann 2011; Bulkeley et al. 2013). The governance of climate change now takes a seemingly bewildering array of forms: carbon markets, certification standards, voluntary workplace schemes, emissions registries, carbon labelling, urban planning codes and so on. Critical to this transformation of the politics of climate change has been the emergence of new forms of transnational governance that cut across traditional state-based jurisdictions, operate across public-private divides and seek to develop new approaches and techniques through which responses are developed. What sets these initiatives apart from other forms of transnational relations is how they not only influence others, but also how they directly intervene in the governing of global affairs in ways that defy conventional understandings of international relations.
This chapter examines the political dynamics underpinning the emergence of TCCG. In the first section of the chapter, we undertake a temporal analysis of the growth of TCCG, focusing on its parallel evolution with the international climate change regime and the broader political-economic shifts outlined in the previous chapter. In the second section of the chapter, our analysis turns to consider the patterns and drivers of private, hybrid and public transnational initiatives over time and to consider the governance functions that are being pursued in these different forms of TCCG. Through this analysis, we seek to capture the process through which climate politics has pluralised by describing and offering explanations for the growth of institutional diversity over time.
In doing so, the three theoretical lenses discussed in Chapter 3 serve as guides for our analysis. The agency-centred perspective is particularly helpful for highlighting the interests of the actors that populate climate politics, their sources of influence and factors underpinning the demand and supply of new forms of transnational governance. The social and system dynamics perspective helps to explain the diffusion of common practices and governance techniques through communities of environmental practitioners and policymakers. Finally, the critical political theory perspective sheds light on the marketisation of a substantial cluster of TCCG initiatives, the ideological underpinnings of these initiatives and the particular constellations of public and private forces that animate them. We use the TCCG database and illustrative case-studies to interrogate these issues illuminating the relationship between the agency of different actors, market logics, functional imperatives and normative contexts.
Our knowledge of transnational governance has been fundamentally shaped by the theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches that have been used to study it (O’Neill et al. 2013, 444). Primarily using a case-study approach revolving around a few high-profile examples, research on transnational governance has focused on the ways in which actors have sought to engage with different forms of transnational governance, the various functions that such arrangements seek to perform and their potential consequences in terms of legitimacy and effectiveness. Such approaches have yielded significant insights into these aspects of transnational governance but cannot, by their very nature, achieve a more comprehensive or systematic view. As O’Neill et al. (2013) suggest, such approaches may be ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of ‘complexity and uncertainty, vertical linkages across multiple scales, horizontal linkages across issue areas, and (often rapidly) evolving problem sets and institutional initiatives’ that beset global environmental governance research, such that new methodological approaches are required. If we regard transnational governance initiatives as having something in common – in terms of what they are seeking to accomplish, or in terms of the ways in which they are organised and constituted – we suggest that methodological innovations capable of creating a more comprehensive account of the overall phenomenon are required.
In order to develop such a broader understanding of the extent and nature of transnational governance in the climate change domain, our approach extends beyond small n case-studies or surveys of one particular type of transnational arrangement through the construction and analysis of a database of sixty transnational climate governance initiatives. This approach enables an analysis of the contours of transnational climate governance in a way that has not been possible within existing methodological approaches, allowing for a more thorough description of who and what are involved, where it is taking place, and how and why it is being pursued.