Governments have failed to stem global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases causing climate change. Indeed, climate-changing pollution is increasing globally, and will do so for decades to come without far more aggressive action. What explains this failure to effectively tackle one of the world's most serious problems? And what can we do about it? To answer these questions, Paul G. Harris looks at climate politics as a doctor might look at a very sick patient. He performs urgent diagnoses and prescribes vital treatments to revive our ailing planet before it's too late.
What's Wrong with Climate Politics and How to Fix It begins by diagnosing what's most wrong with climate politics, including the anachronistic international system, which encourages nations to fight for their narrowly perceived interests and makes major cuts in greenhouse pollution extraordinarily difficult; the deadlock between the United States and China, which together produce over one-third of global greenhouse gas pollution but do little more than demand that the other act first; and affluent lifestyles and overconsumption, which are spreading rapidly from industrialized nations to the developing world. What's Wrong with Climate Politics and How to Fix It then prescribes several "remedies" for the failed politics of climate change, including a new kind of climate diplomacy with people at its center, national policies that put the common but differentiated responsibilities of individuals alongside those of nations, and a campaign for simultaneously enhancing human wellbeing and environmental sustainability. While these treatments are aspirational, they are not intended to be utopian. As Harris shows, they are genuine, workable solutions to what ails the politics of climate change today.
"From front cover to concluding punchline, with brilliant insights in between, this is a great book – exactly what is needed to reinvigorate a stale climate debate."
- Times Higher Education
"A great virtue of the book is its exceptionally clear structure [...] Harris' mix of cultural and ethical change is certainly a key component in the sources of transformation we need to focus our attention on."
- Journal of Global Faultlines
"'Fixing' climate politics is a near-impossible task, but Paul Harris points to a way forward that does hold out some hope. His clearly written book will also be useful as an introduction to the problem of climate change and the politics associated with it."
- Peter Singer, Princeton University
"I very much enjoyed reading this book. It is well written, accessible, and engaging, and packed full of ideas and observations about the challenges of climate politics. I have no doubt that students will find it stimulating."
- Neil Carter, University of York
"A carefully researched and well-presented work."
- John Sweeny, National University of Ireland Maynooth, in the Irish Examiner
"Well-written [...] an excellent, easily understood review of the sorry status of international cooperation to find a global solution to climate change."
- Donald Brown, Widener University School of Law, in Ethics and Climate
"For a student or interested citizen wishing to delve deeper into some of the issues behind the current climate policy impasse, this well researched book offers an accessible and engaging read."
- Christopher Shaw, Oxford University, in LSE Review of Books
About the Author vi
1 Introduction 1
Part I: Diagnoses
2 Cancer of Westphalia: Climate Diplomacy and the International System 33
3 Malignancy of the Great Polluters: The United States and China 64
4 Addictions of Modernity: Affl uence and Consumption 93
Part II: Treatments
5 People-Centered Diplomacy: Human Rights and Globalized Justice 119
6 Differentiated Responsibility: National and Individual 144
7 Consumption of Happiness: Sustainability and Wellbeing 171
8 Conclusion 197
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Paul G. Harris is Chair Professor of global and environmental studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education.