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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: February 2021

5 - Pathologies of National Politics in the Global North

from Part II - Pathologies


A picture that emerges is one of national interests being perceived, for reasons arising almost exclusively from national politics, in ways that effectively discount the threat of climate change. Climate change has been on the national agenda for decades, but national politics has repeatedly prevented it from being interpreted as a vital national interest by most national governments. Most countries still perceive the risk of acting to address climate effectively as being a threat to their economies, or at least to powerful economic actors. This does not necessarily cause them to ignore climate change, but it does result, at best, in watered-down climate policies. A question is whether this picture of national politics reveals widespread pathologies of climate governance in developed countries. This chapter aims to start answering this question by looking at the governance of climate change in the European Union, Russia, Australia, Canada and Japan. This gives a picture of how pathologies of national politics influence climate governance globally. Climate change is perceived to be a national interest to the extent that national politics determine it to be so.

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