IPCC: climate denial, fundamental restructuring of global economy and social structures, and vested interests and climate governance

IPCC AR5, WG III, Chapter 4

Sent by Robert J. Brulle

Climate Denial – pages 300 – 301 

Denial mechanisms that overrate the costs of changing lifestyles, blame others, and that cast doubt on the effectiveness of individual action or the soundness of scientific knowledge are well documented (Stoll-Kleemann et  al., 2001; Norgaard, 2011; McCright and Dunlap, 2011), as is the concerted effort by opponents of climate action to seed and amplify those doubts (Jacques et  al., 2008; Kolmes, 2011; Conway and Oreskes, 2011).

Fundamental restructuring of global economy and social structure – page 297

Third, effective response to climate change may require a fundamental restructuring of the global economic and social systems, which in turn would involve overcoming multiple vested interests and the inertia associated with behavioural patterns and crafting new institutions that promote sustainability (Meadows et  al., 2004; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005)

Vested Interests and Climate Governance – page 298

A defining image of the climate governance landscape is that key actors have vastly disproportionate capacities and resources, including the political, financial, and cognitive resources that are necessary to steer the behaviour of the collective within and across territorial boundaries (Dingwerth and Pattberg, 2009). A central element of governance therefore relates to huge asymmetry in such resources and the ability to exercise power or influence outcomes. Some actors, including governments, make use of negotiation power and/or lobbying activities to influence policy decisions at multiple scales and, by doing so, affect the design and the subsequent allocation and distribution of benefits and costs resulting from such decisions (Markussen and Svendsen, 2005; Benvenisti and Downs, 2007; Schäfer, 2009; Sandler, 2010) — see e.g., Section 15.5.2. The problem, however, also resides in the fact that those that wield the greatest power either consider it  against their interest to facilitate rapid progress towards a global low carbon economy or insist that the accepted solutions must be aligned to increase their power and material gains (Sæverud and Skjærseth, 2007; Giddens, 2009; Hulme, 2009; Lohmann, 2009, 2010; Okereke and McDaniels, 2012; Wittneben et  al., 2012). The most notable effect of this is that despite some exceptions, the prevailing organization of the global economy, which confers significant power on actors associated with fossil fuel interests and with the financial sector, has provided the context for the sorts of governance practices of climate change that have dominated to date (Newell and Paterson, 2010).