School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    Convergent evolution: framework climate legislation in Australia
    Christoff, P ; Eckersley, R (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021-09-24)
    Australia is a well-known climate laggard with a history of political conflict over climate policy and the dubious distinction of being the only country to repeal a national emissions trading scheme (ETS). This article examines the puzzle of why four subnational governments in Australia’s federation succeeded in enacting durable framework climate legislation based on a model that came to be widely regarded as ‘best-practice’. We show that in 2007 South Australia was the first jurisdiction in the world to enact framework climate legislation with a 2050 emissions reduction target and an independent expert advisory committee to provide guidance on the implementation of interim targets. We show that this local legislative innovation set off a process of political learning, policy transfer and a virtuous political competition among like-minded Labour and Labour-Green governments at the subnational level. We call this ‘convergent evolution’ insofar as the legislative innovation and diffusion over the period 2007–2015 was similar to, but occurred independently of, the UK Climate Change Act 2008 and the diffusion of this model elsewhere in Europe. Common to all cases was a strong commitment by the premier and/or the relevant minister to pursue a decarbonisation strategy via targets, and reliance on sources of advice for legislative reform that were professionally and/or politically committed to climate action rather than from vested industry groups. More generally, we argue that framework climate legislation carries lower political risks than an ETS because it does not draw attention to the upfront costs of action. The diffusion of subnational climate change legislation, accompanied by renewable energy promotion, has helped to limit the impacts of Australian national climate policy failure while also providing a springboard for renewed climate legislative momentum at the national level.
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    Taking Responsibility for Climate Change
    Eckersley, RW (Melbourne University Press, 2012)
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    Multilateralism in crisis?
    ECKERSLEY, R ; Bäckstrand, K ; Lövbrand, E (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015-11-27)
    The 2009 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen is often represented as a watershed in global climate politics, when the diplomatic efforts to negotiate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol failed and was replaced by a fragmented and decentralized climate governance order. In the post-Copenhagen landscape the top-down universal approach to climate governance has gradually given way to a more complex, hybrid and dispersed political landscape involving multiple actors, arenas and sites. The Handbook contains contributions from more than 50 internationally leading scholars and explores the latest trends and theoretical developments of the climate governance scholarship.
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    Responsibility for Climate Change as a Structural Injustice
    ECKERSLEY, R ; Gabrielson, T ; Hall, C ; Meyer, J ; Schlosberg, D (Oxford University Press, 2016-01-07)
    This chapter critically explores the political and moral challenges involved in understanding the harms of climate change as the product of structural injustices with a specific focus on political responsibility. The chapter stages a critical encounter between Iris Marion Young’s account of political responsibility, and the debate among climate justice theorists on how to assign responsibility for mitigation and adaptation to citizens and states. This encounter demonstrates the value of a hybrid approach that includes, and bridges, forward looking shared responsibility and backward looking liability models, but also reveals a major predicament. The more that structural injustices based on historical responsibility are backgrounded, the easier it becomes to reach agreements between the world’s most vulnerable and most privileged. Yet doing so accelerates the skewed distribution of climate vulnerability toward the least privileged, diminishing the common ground needed to achieve an equitable allocation of responsibility for climate change.
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    Australia is a Climate Laggard rather than Leader
    ECKERSLEY, RW ; Baldino, D ; Carr, A ; Langlois, AJ (Oxford University Press, 2014)
    The debates are informative and potentially provocative as the book is designed to encourage discussion and analytical and critical thought. For the topics discussed, there is not necessarily a "right" answer.
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    The Green State in Transition: Reply to Bailey, Barry and Craig
    Eckersley, R (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2020-01-02)
    The contributions comprising this special section are part of a more general wave of research that is revisiting and/or re-envisaging the environmental state. They do so from the perspective of critical political economy. This article provides an assessment of their respective contributions while also reflecting on how those seeking to understand the greening (or de-greening) of the state from this critical political economy perspective might extend their critical theory to ‘critical problem-solving’ in ways that are attentive to the politics of transition. To this end, I play Bailey off against Barry and Craig to illustrate how critical problem-solving might be approached.
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    Who's Afraid of a Climate Treaty?
    Eckersley, R ; Gaita, R ; Simpson, G (Monash University Publishing, 2017)
    Is there such a thing as an ‘international law’ of which to be afraid? Can international law be seen as a coherent set of norms? Or is it, rather, something experienced radically differently by different individuals and groups in different parts of the world? And what do the different sets of international law seek to change or justify today?
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    Global Environment
    Eckersley, R ; Cox, M ; Stokes, D (Oxford University Press, 2018)
    This chapter examines how US foreign policy on environmental issues has evolved over a period of nearly five decades, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. It first considers the United States’ environmental multilateralism as well as environmental initiatives under Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, and Donald Trump before discussing key trends and puzzles in US foreign environmental policy. It shows the United States as an environmental leader during the Cold War, but an environmental laggard in the post–Cold War period, with the Obama administration’s re-engagement in climate diplomacy as a significant exception. The chapter also explains how the larger trend of waning environmental leadership from the United States has occurred at the same time as international environmental problems, especially climate change, have increasingly moved from the periphery towards the centre of world politics.
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    Australian democracy and climate politics for the long-term
    ECKERSLEY, R (Melbourne University Publishing - Mianjin Company, 2015)
    One of the great ironies in the story of modern representative democracy is that its geographic expansion in the closing decades of the twentieth century has been accompanied by a thinning out in its liberal Western heartland. The short-lived triumph of liberal democracy that followed the crumbling of the Berlin Wall has given way to a slowly building chorus of more sceptical voices, no less in Australia than elsewhere. Alongside the familiar problems of rising political inequality, declining political party membership and general political disaffection there is the creeping worry that liberal democracies may not be capable of handling the major challenges of the new millennium. The looming ecological crisis is widely recognised as one of these challenges, with climate change featuring as exhibit A.
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    National identities, international roles, and the legitimation of climate leadership: Germany and Norway compared
    Eckersley, R (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2016-01-02)
    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) confers an obligation on developed states to lead in mitigation. This obligation challenges traditional conceptions of the modern state by calling forth a more outward looking state that is able to serve both the national and international communities in the service of global climate protection. Yet, the more skeptical theories of the ecological state suggest that climate leaders will only emerge if they can connect their climate strategy to the traditional state imperatives of economic growth or national security. How the governments of Germany and Norway, both relative climate leaders with ongoing fossil-fuel dependencies, have legitimated their climate policies and diplomacy is examined through a comparative discourse analysis. While both governments rely heavily on discourses of Green growth, they also construct national identities and international role conceptions that serve purposes beyond themselves.