Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Politics of Climate Change

In his book, The Politics of Climate Change (2009), a leading interdisciplinary sociologist Anthony Giddens argues that the challenge of climate change is primarily political and not technological.  What is sorely lacking is long-term and innovative thinking and action on the part of political parties, leaders and ordinary citizens.  What is missing is the politics that can empower and guide the work of diverse groups toward climate change adaptation, within developing and overdeveloping nations, and which can ensure mitigation, especially progressive carbon emissions reduction, primarily within the overdeveloping nations in North America and North-Western Europe.

A politics “beyond left and right” is needed to stimulate an “economic convergence” in which economic and technological innovations for climate change mitigation could provide a competitive advantage, such as energy security or efficiency, to diverse users of the innovations, whether the users be households or corporations.  At the same time, the politics of climate change has to include “life politics,” or the politics of life-style and self-identity, which gives prominence to emotive and ethical concerns.  A change to low carbon life-styles will be easier for citizens who prioritize the effort to seek and sustain expressive and emotionally satisfying relationships over the effort to accumulate commodities.
The analysis of Giddens of necessary social innovations in our age of climate change can challenge and enrich a theological ethics that seeks a comprehensive understanding of the meaning and implications of the principle of sustainability.  His analysis and concepts can help sharpen the theological understanding of sustainability, development, “nature,” the environment, and the stewardship of creation.  Theological ethics can increase its social impact by engaging the field of public policy as a regular dialogue partner and thus understanding better the process of developing and implementing public policy in which politics is involved in an environment of diverse stakeholders.

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