Energy and climate change

Authored by: Hugh C. Dyer

Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415694209
eBook ISBN: 9780203799055
Adobe ISBN: 9781135090517


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Energy and climate change have become related issues in recent political discourse, reflecting changes in global politics. The issues are linked, but they have typically been treated separately. This chapter explores the relationship between energy and climate as a strategic pair. This does not imply, however, that they are necessarily complementary policy goals. Each is a challenge for actors with critical roles in setting the global agenda, where incoherence and competing political priorities undermine coordinated, consistent policy. At the same time, there are opportunities for encouraging behavioural modification (“nudging”) and social action to support political change toward environmental protection and efficient energy (see Chapter 26). The confluence of energy and climate policy – at the point where carbon is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels – may suggest potential benefits of a “win–win” approach by which both policy goals are achieved through “efficiency” and innovation. However, efficiency and innovation alone are not likely to reduce the overall use of carbon-based energy or reduce climate impacts, and there is seldom room in daily politics for energy sufficiency or urgent policies to address climate change. The consequences are uncoordinated tensions rather than coherent solutions, even as climate change and related energy policies become more central to social and political agendas.

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