Resources Lesson 1: Climate Change Policy and Politics
Politics. Anthony Giddens has nicely summarised the 'Politics of climate change' - see a review by clicking here. Although it takes a UK perspective, it covers the ground in a thorough manner.
Policy. We have already seen an excellent Lancet paper in the previous Topic about possible Public Health policies, and here is another that discusses global health policy and climate stabilisation: you can access the full paper (but will have to register although it is then free) by clicking here. The Abstract is as follows: "Although health has improved for many people, the extent of health inequities between and within countries is growing. Meanwhile, humankind is disrupting the global climate and other life-supporting environmental systems, thereby creating serious risks for health and wellbeing, especially in vulnerable populations but ultimately for everybody. Underlying determinants of health inequity and environmental change overlap substantially; they are signs of an economic system predicated on asymmetric growth and competition, shaped by market forces that mostly disregard health and environmental consequences rather than by values of fairness and support. A shift is needed in priorities in economic development towards healthy forms of urbanisation, more efficient and renewable energy sources, and a sustainable and fairer food system. Global interconnectedness and interdependence enable the social and environmental determinants of health to be addressed in ways that will increase health equity, reduce poverty, and build societies that live within environmental limits."
Sustainable development. Another paper, from the Bulletin of the WHO, titled 'Global climate change: implications for international public health policy can be found here. The paper concludes: "Human-induced climate change is an emerging threat that rightly commands widespread policy and public attention. Along with other rapid changes associated with global population and economic growth, climate change strains existing weak points in health protection systems and calls for reconsideration of public health priorities. The most effective responses are likely to be strengthening of the key functions of environmental management, surveillance and response to safeguard health from natural disasters and changes in infectious disease patterns, and a more pro-active approach to ensure that development decisions serve the ultimate goal of improving human health.16 For the most part these are not new interventions but existing tools underutilized due to the "true killers”: lack of political commitment and of financial resources. Climate change, therefore, demands that we intensify our efforts in preventive public health and place that crucial task at the core of sustainable development."
The media. The way in which climate change is reported in the media may be crucial to the way the population understands the issue. In Nationalizing a global phenomenon: A study of how the press in 45 countries and territories portrays climate change the authors state: "Although climate change is a global issue that affects every country in the world, how the news media frame it varies from country to country. Such a variation is related to each country’s economic development, climate severity, and governance." The authors do not go in detail about the variation within country between various media outlets, nor into the impact of social media-rich areas for discussion.
An ethical dimension. Clive Hamilton, in his papers The Banality of Ethics in the Anthropocene, Part 1 and Part 2, argues for a new approach to ethics: "Among the great crimes of the 20th century, the most enduring will surely prove to be human disruption of the Earth’s climate... With modern technology humans have become so powerful that we now rival the great forces of nature, so much so that we have diverted the planet from its natural course, taking it out of the Holocene’s 10,000 years of climatic stability and clemency into a new, unstable and dangerous geological epoch, the Anthropocene. If this feat is a crime then before the enormity of what humankind has now done, the grand constructions of international law and all modern ethical systems appear frail and almost pathetic. "
Science and scientists. The November 2019 paper World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency states "Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency." In the age of climate denial where scientific evidence is often ignored, this is a very important statement with political intent. The paper itself is worth reading and proposes a number of practical suggestions and provides an excellent evidence base.