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Political ecology of Costa Rica’s climate policy: contextualizing climate governance


  • Emily Benton Hite

    (University of Colorado)


Climate change is a global problem with distinct local impacts that challenge the application of universal policy mechanisms. Climate governance is the broad multiscalar, mixed method approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It is founded on neoliberal market logics that commodify carbon, while also attempting to be socially and environmentally sustainable. This research focuses on hydroelectricity, a climate governance mechanism that is simultaneously promoted as a solution to climate change and critiqued for its negative social and environmental impacts. This paradox is explored by assessing the assemblage of interactions occurring within Costa Rica, a place known for their sustainable development and renewable energy production. Local indigenous communities, state, and non-state actors voice a diverse array of perspectives regarding construction of the Diquís hydroelectric project, which the state promotes as a key component of its climate plan. To some indigenous peoples, the project is a threat to their landscapes, livelihoods, and cultures; to others, its delay results in missed economic opportunities. In this paper, I utilize political ecology to explore these diverse perspectives in order to contextualize the local dynamics of global climate governance, providing insights for both climate policy in Costa Rica and climate governance mechanisms broadly.

Suggested Citation

  • Emily Benton Hite, 2018. "Political ecology of Costa Rica’s climate policy: contextualizing climate governance," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 8(4), pages 469-476, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:8:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s13412-018-0480-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-018-0480-y

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Koo, Bonsang, 2017. "Preparing hydropower projects for the post-Paris regime: An econometric analysis of the main drivers for registration in the Clean Development Mechanism," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 868-877.
    2. Fearnside, Philip M., 2016. "Environmental and Social Impacts of Hydroelectric Dams in Brazilian Amazonia: Implications for the Aluminum Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 48-65.
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    4. Watts, David & Albornoz, Constanza & Watson, Andrea, 2015. "Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) after the first commitment period: Assessment of the world׳s portfolio and the role of Latin America," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 1176-1189.
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