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Dickinson to Durban » Environmental Politics » Climate Politics: Beyond Nation States

Climate Politics: Beyond Nation States

The politics that surround climate change are incredibly complex. What adds to this complexity is the number and variety of actors who do or should participate. The decision making process for climate change policies on the international level involve not only states but coalitions of states, organizations through the UNFCCC, and a myriad of non-state actors. The non-state actors are sometimes not given the credit they deserve for how much influence they have in the process. In Governing Climate Change by Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell, the authors agree that, “non-state actors are central to the governance of climate change”(34). The most obviously needed non-state actors for climate change are the scientists who study climate and discovered that anything was even changing in the climate. No matter if they agree that the climate is changing or not, climate scientists hold great power in what conclusions they come to and promote to the rest of the world. Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, proves how these scientists can influence the policies of countries just be refuting evidence of other scientists. The authors describe how a report on climate change by the National Academy of Scientists called Changing Climate: Report of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee was “really two reports…which presented very different impressions of the problem. The synthesis sides with the economists, not the natural scientists”(177).

This brings up another incredibly influential group of non-state actors, industry. The world seems to be run by big industries and corporations that influence governments with their economic importance. A vital point, which Bulkeley and Newell bring up, is that because we live in a world with a very globalized economy many governments are “wary of introducing policies such as taxation when businesses threatened with such measures can relocate” to other countries (4). The power of money is a huge part of our world and clearly important to acknowledge when dealing with climate change policies. There are many non-state actors beyond those listed but the few groups above prove that nation states are definitely not the only actors manipulating climate politics. In order to make changes in policy of any kind, these outside groups need to be remembered and paid attention to. It truly will take the combined efforts of everyone to change our current path towards serious anthropogenic climate change.

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