Climate Change and International Relations : Reconsidering Interdependence, Governance and Security
Abstract: There is increased evidence to support the hypothesis that humanity actively, albeit inadvertently, contributes to global environmental change on a scale and with an intensity unprecedented in human history. Climate change, and to some extent stratospheric ozone depletion, present the international structures and systems for naturalresources management research and politics with fundamentally new conditions. This thesis explores some of the implications of global environmental change for the practice and understanding of world politics, and seeks out a balance between earlier polarised approaches that have tended towards either a ‘problem solving’ or a ‘critical’ avenue of analysis. The thesis analysis, which includes a review and the addressing of climate-change characteristics of particular importance to environmental risk perception and communication (such as alterations in amplitude and intensity of weather events), runs via the concepts of interdependence, governance and security, and so enables a more subtle reading of the implications of the greening of international politics. The thesis shows that climate change can be understood to bring greater interdependence among different types of actors. The perceived interdependence can contribute new forms of collaboration and governance but may also create a false image of mutual interests. The thesis finds that climate governance entails much more than interstate cooperation; governance can take on various forms, and state authority is only one of them. It is argued that the activities of the insurance industry – which faces impending climate risks – can be conceived of as a form of private authority in climate governance. By supporting principles and norms (such as stringent versions of precautionary strategy), and by establishing ‘private’ regimes, the international insurance enterprise has emerged as a non-state climate governor; a development with both benign and malign outcomes. The thesis also shows that the climate issue has now entered the domains of international security assessment and policy making, and it employs a constructivist interpretation that helps advance the understanding of the implications of perceiving climate change as an issue of international security, both in terms of a new type of threat and as a value to be secured per se.
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