School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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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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    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.
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    Poles apart?: The social construction of responsibility for climate change in Australia and Norway
    Eckersley, R (Wiley, 2013-01-01)
    This article provides a comparative discourse analysis of the climate responsibility narratives of Australian and Norwegian political leaders during the period 2007-2012. The analysis focuses on how political leaders imagine their country's identity and role in the world and how they connect (or disconnect) these identities, roles and interests with responsibility for climate change, and with their respective energy policies. The analysis shows that the striking differences in mitigation ambition and responsibility discourses between Australia and Norway are clearly related, but cannot be reduced, to differences in their relative dependence on fossil fuel. Rather, differences in national identity and international role conception provide a far more illuminating account than a simple interest-based explanation. However, Australia and Norway are not quite so "poles apart" on their energy policies, and I briefly explore the implications of climate policy hypocrisy.
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    The Politics of Carbon Leakage and the Fairness of Border Measures
    Eckersley, R (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2010-01-01)
    The article critically examines domestic political concerns about the competitive disadvantages and possible carbon leakage arising from the introduction of domestic emission trading legislation and the fairness of applying carbon equalization measures at the border as a response to these concerns. I argue that the border adjustment measures proposed in the emissions trading bills that have been presented to Congress amount to an evasion of the U.S.'s leadership responsibilities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I also show how the “level commercial playing field” justification for border measures that has dominated U.S. domestic debates is narrow and lopsided because it focuses only on the competitive disadvantages and direct carbon leakage that may flow from climate regulation while ignoring general shifts in the production and consumption of emissions in the global economy, which have enabled the outsourcing of emission to developing countries. The UNFCC production-based method of emissions accounting enables Northern consumers to enjoy the benefit of cheaper imports from Southern producers and to attribute the emissions associated with this consumption to the South. I argue that it is possible to design fair border measures that address carbon leakage, are consistent with the leadership responsibilities of developed countries, do not penalize developing countries, and ensure that consumers take some responsibility for the emissions outsourced to developing countries.