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Climate change: Explaining and solving the mismatch between scientific urgency and political inertia

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Author Info

  • Jonathan Boston
  • Frieder Lempp
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    Abstract

    Purpose – This paper has two main purposes. First, it considers the detrimental effects of four politically-salient asymmetries on the policy choices of liberal democracies when dealing with the problem of human-induced climate change. Second, it outlines and evaluates possible solutions for reducing or countering these asymmetries. Design/methodology/approach – The approach involves an analysis and evaluation of policy options based on a survey of the relevant literature. Findings – The paper highlights the serious mismatch between the magnitude and urgency of the climate change problem and the current political will to overcome or mitigate the problem. Although four categories of potential solutions, and the various mechanisms through which they might operate, are discussed, it is recognized that all the available options have significant drawbacks, not least limited political feasibility and doubtful effectiveness. In short, action within liberal democracies to mitigate climate change is likely to remain seriously constrained by the four asymmetries discussed, thus increasing the risk of dangerous climate change. Originality/value – The paper highlights the complexities, both international and national, of confronting human-induced climate change. In particular, it identifies four systemic reasons, in the form of politically-salient asymmetries, why liberal democracies have struggled to take effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides a systematic assessment of possible solutions to these asymmetries. These include changes to accounting frameworks to ensure that the impact of humanity on the environment and future generations is more transparent.

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    File URL: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=0951-3574&volume=24&issue=8&articleid=1958560&show=abstract
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

    Volume (Year): 24 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 8 (October)
    Pages: 1000-1021

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:24:y:2011:i:8:p:1000-1021

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    Web page: http://www.emeraldinsight.com

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    Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK
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    Related research

    Keywords: Climate change; Climate change policy; Environmental accounting; Future generations; Mitigation; Politically-salient asymmetries; Politics; Sciences;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Bernauer, Thomas & Koubi, Vally, 2009. "Effects of political institutions on air quality," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 1355-1365, March.
    2. Boyd, James, 2007. "Nonmarket benefits of nature: What should be counted in green GDP?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 716-723, March.
    3. Brand, Christian & Boardman, Brenda, 2008. "Taming of the few--The unequal distribution of greenhouse gas emissions from personal travel in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 224-238, January.
    4. Andreas Polk & Armin Schmutzler, 2003. "Lobbying against Environmental Regulation vs. Lobbying for Loopholes," SOI - Working Papers 0301, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    5. Sutton, Paul C. & Costanza, Robert, 2002. "Global estimates of market and non-market values derived from nighttime satellite imagery, land cover, and ecosystem service valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 509-527, June.
    6. Paul Demeny, 1986. "Population and the invisible hand," Demography, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 473-487, November.
    7. Helm, Dieter, 2009. "EU Climate-Change Policy—A Critique," Working paper 7, Regulation2point0.
    8. Howarth, Richard B., 2007. "Towards an operational sustainability criterion," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 656-663, September.
    9. Farzin, Y. Hossein & Bond, Craig A., 2006. "Democracy and environmental quality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 213-235, October.
    10. Boyd, James & Banzhaf, H. Spencer, 2006. "What Are Ecosystem Services?," Discussion Papers dp-06-02, Resources For the Future.
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