International Climate Change Governance: Issues of Democracy, Institutions and the Media
Pandey, C. L. (2014). International Climate Change Governance: Issues of Democracy, Institutions and the Media (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8671
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8671
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was established in 1992 to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The nation states of the world have attempted to arrest climate change through a state-centric large scale multilateral treaty making process. Yet, over a period of more than twenty years, little has been achieved toward that objective. The making of international climate change governance required to arrest climate change is falling short. Greenhouse gases, which scientists consider to be the main culprit of climate change, are increasing rapidly making every subsequent year’s emissions concentration a new record. Climate scientists say global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius could be extremely dangerous. The 1992 Convention, 1997 Kyoto Protocol, 2009 Copenhagen Accord and subsequent agreements have failed to translate the goal and achieve the threshold target as no serious and viable policies are forthcoming. Instead, the United Nations’ climate conferences have become a yearly chore for diplomats. The complexities of climate change governance arise not only from the nature and uncertainty of its impact, but also from its embedded relationships with social, cultural, political, economic, historical and institutional dimensions. Appropriate responses to address the challenges of climate change are difficult in the absence of potential solutions in sight. The pre-requisite for any effective policy responses is that the decision making process be democratic, transparent, and inclusive so that the ultimate addressees can ‘own’ the problem and contribute to solutions. A sizable literature focuses on the causes and reasons behind climate change and advocates radical actions to arrest it. Other research highlights economic implications, alternatives to fossil fuels, consumption and production, scientific uncertainty and challenges the perennial North-South politics in seeking to explain the lack of progress. There has been little research on why international climate change governance is making only incremental progress. This thesis takes as its starting point the paucity of attention to working out how and why progress has not been made, drawing on insights from climate change negotiations, major climate agreements and analyses of data on media communications on the issues of international climate change negotiations for policy making. The research recognizes the complexity of climate change and takes a comprehensive approach in considering why has there been little progress in the making of an effective international climate change governance to prevent climate change. The thesis takes three complementary approaches in addressing the central research question. The first develops from the concept of a democratic deficit and posits that the failure of progress can be attributed to a lack of the democratic processes in grappling with the issues. The second explores the state-centric framework of UNFCCC and posits that since the environmental issues are non-territorial, the challenges postulated by climate change cannot be resolved and progress made by solely relying on a state-centric approach. The third is to do with media communications and posits the role of the media in public education as central to develop the necessary public support for addressing the issues of climate change. The Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord, and how they were achieved are central to this research as these are the two major climate change agreements achieved internationally so far. This research concludes that the approaches we have adopted so far have been inadequate because of the lack of involvement of the main stakeholders in decision making processes. The common but differentiated and historical responsibilities, pertinent principles in 1992, no longer reflect current economic growth and greenhouse gas emission patterns. There is a need to review our state-centric institutional framework toward a more inclusive, participatory, and deliberative accountability whereby the public and businesses can ‘own’ the problem. The role of the media is paramount in this because it is the media that passes information from the scientists, experts and policy makers to the public. The research concludes that the media has a key role to play and needs to be more critical in advancing measures to address the problems of climate change.
University of Waikato
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