Question Note: Please use the article below and internet to answer the following questions: 1. What is an environmental advocacy coalition? 2. What is a zero sum game using an environmental example? 3. Why do small organized groups often triumph over larger more diffuse groups in environmental politics? 4. What does the article below suggest regarding our capacity to manage or stop climate change? 5. Do you agree or disagree? Week 11 The Politics of Climate Change and Implications for Sustainable Environmental Management Despite the growing number empirical studies (and scientific consensus) pointing to the devastating impacts of global warming the evolution of leading atmospheric scientists and scientific organizations (e.g. American Meteorological Society) into advocates for programs and policies that mitigate carbon-based emissions the climate-related concerns of some business leaders and the prominence given climate change in President Obamas second inaugural address: we must recognize that fundamental climate policy change will not take place in foreseeable future. Unfortunately intransigence disinterest imaginary thinking and inaction characterize both National and international political decision-making when it comes to passing policies to reduce (by significant amounts) carbon emissions. The probability of inaction has grown even greater as the oil and gas industry has discovered abundant natural gas and oil shales and tar sands throughout the North American continent. The majority of private sector and government leaders and the American public will not support the transition to relatively expensive forms of alternative energy while abundant carbon-based resources remain immediately accessible for exploitation. Thus the United States and for that matter the globe is caught in a Hobsons Choice Notably we either accept the choice of incremental and most likely ineffective policy changes or the likelihood is that nothing will be achieved While a national carbon tax may be the optimal solution in the sense we could equalize the costs between carbon-based energy sources and alternative energy sources (wind tides solar) it is very unlikely we can move towards a national carbon tax even if revenues are redistributed to the general public and no matter the potential of this option to expedite the transition towards a sustainable future. The simple fact is that such an option would violate the fundamental policy beliefs of a capitalist society especially the redistributive component of such a policy. Nonetheless many within the scientific community (as well as many within the thought leadership of the U.S. progressive civic community) faithfully carry on with their clarion cry against unconstrained carbon emissions in tandem with a grudgingly optimistic belief that 1) communicating with the public and decision-makers 2 crafting effective messages that take into account the differing belief structures of the public 3) analyzing and reporting weather and temperature anomalies including Sandy 5) communicating with business and political leaders and 6) engaging courts on the intergenerational equity impacts of dramatic climate change will ultimately translate into comprehensive optimized solutions that will avoid a global Armageddon. This optimism is illustrated through the recent series of seminars hosted by the prestigious Commonwealth Club of California (Fall 2012) wherein a number of well known climatologists spoke on the challenges facing climate change policy advocacy but as importantly expressed their belief that human society retains the option of avoiding a future where carbon emissions have locked the globe into a series of cascading events for which there is no plausible man-constructed escape. As the well known climatologist Dr. James Hansen stated at Climate One Ceremony awarding him the 2012 Stephen Schneider Climate Change Communications Award: [To continue carbon emissions at current levels] we would be setting the planet on a path to disasters. We can’t say when the ice sheets are going to melt enough to cause that large sea level rise but you know we already can see with CO2 in the atmosphere now which is about 390 or 300 — between 390 and 395. But the system has notcome to equilibrium with that we know that the planet is now out of that equilibrium for about seven tenths of a watt per meter square which means there’s almost as much warming in the pipeline as that which has already occurred. And look what’s happening with the eight tenths of a degree warming now We have to keep the climate close to the Holocene. Civilization developed during the last several thousand years the Holocene which was — we were not at the peak Holocene temperature at the pre-industrial but now we’ve probably reasoned out of the Holocene range. Because sea level for example is now going up 3.1 millimeters a year which is 3.1 meters per millennium. Its way out of the range that existed during the Holocene. So we’re already a little bit above the Holocene. We’ve got to stay close to the Holocene if we want to have a stable climate. And that’s what — and that’s still possible because there are lots of ways we can actually draw CO2 out of the atmosphere with better agricultural practices and reforestation. So it’s not an impossible problem but the key thing is we’ve got to start to get off fossil fuels soon. We can’t — we cannot burn all these fossil fuels without going to the ice free state which means sea level 250 feet higher. And so it’s just crazy but somehow I never made that sink in and is now — then Bill McKibben. You know I’ve talked with him frequently and he’s a much better writer and he wrote this article for Rolling Stone. He said the same thing but he said it in a much better way and suddenly he said “The reserves that these oil companies are counting on their books and their stock prices are based on this those are five times greater than what we can burn and still hope to have a livable planet.” Then suddenly some people started to realize we’ve got a problem. The comments by Dr. James Hansen et al. before the California Commonwealth Club reflect a sense of urgency but also a muted optimism that the United States as well as other nations are still masters of their own fate. Indeed we can fix the problem by moving off carbon-based fuels. Unfortunately social science strongly suggests that the likelihood of timely solutions of a sufficient scale to avoid climate-based catastrophe are unlikely to occur. Indeed the most that can be hoped for is a series of incremental steps (moving to additional nuclear power plants reforesting certain areas changing from coal to natural gas) that most likely will not prove sufficient to keep the climate close to the Holocene. Hence the only hope is that the vast majority of climatologists are wrong in their view that there is fundamental anthropogenic climate change occurring that warming will not produce the dire consequences expected or that there are political and economically neutral solutions (i.e. new technologies enabling massive sequestration or massive use of adaptive strategies) that can be developed that will dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately the third option of massive investment in new technology for sequestration runs up against the continuing debate regarding austerity versus new infrastructure investment. While Congress and the President play the fiscal fiddle widespread long-term drought continues throughout much of the Country and longer-term problems such as the growing inability of the Colorado River to support population growth continues unattended. Even as this article is being written the Mississippi River is facing closure to barge traffic due to unusually low river flows. To support my argument that comprehensive policy solutions are not politically feasible I will discuss some of the more dire lessons drawn from social science regarding the possibility of comprehensive change. These rules of thumb will be stated in the form of hypotheses for consideration and verification through confirmatory policy research and actual events. Hypothesis I; The nature of collective political action makes agreement on a comprehensive strategy to combat carbon emissions all but impossible barring a fundamental crisis. The writings of the seminal political economist Mancur Olsen on the nature of collective action describe through economic theory some of the primary barriers to the development and institution of the major changes necessary to bring about immediate and significant reductions in the level of carbon emissions. In particular Mancur Olsen demonstrates the difficulty in markets providing collective goods such as highways and other types of infrastructure (such as unproven non-carbon based energy technologies) that are available to all including free-riders (those that benefit from the investment of others with little or no cost to themselves). In this regard there is little incentive for markets to provide goods or services that either may not pay off (in terms of profits) or whose benefits cannot be restricted to those that invest in them. This free rider problem requires a governmental sovereign to intervene and to require taxpayers to provide collective goods (scientific research and subsidized development) via taxes. If government cannot act in most situations collective goods such as alternative energy policies and concomitant technological solutions simply not appear. The payoff is too low and the investment risk is too high. Mancur Olsen also addresses the problem that smaller groups comprised of large and powerful economic interests have significant advantages over larger more diffuse groups (such as the overall electorate) in moving forward policies that are favorable to the smaller group. For example it is much easier for a relatively small group of large energy companies to pursue their immediate interest of retaining current policies that favor carbon-intensive energy sources over a larger coalition of scientists activists and significant but diffuse segments of the electorate. Larger more loosely bound groups face serious organizational obstacles to gaining the sustained political momentum necessary to institute policies and programs that promote significant changes in the status quo especially if the problem is profoundly complex and can only be fully understood by scientists with an advanced understanding of physics and mathematics and/or the rules of processing and rigorous manipulation of huge data sets through obtuse statistical methods. In part the dilemma rests in the fact that members of smaller more powerful groups can easily see the tangible benefits of their political investments. Exxon or British Petroleum has no problem in seeing the advantages of locking the Nation in to a carbon-intensive future even as they speak glowingly about their portfolios that conveniently include alternative energy technologies. Conversely individuals of large diffuse groups must take on faith that their small incremental actions such as purchasing solar panels or writing to their representatives in favor of reducing carbon emissions will produce any tangible consequential outcome. Thus it is not surprising that most citizens opt for non-action unless the consequences of non-action unless the government heavily subsidizes their purchases through tax credits. Recent events show the tenacity to which energy companies have retained their tax subsidies and the problems President Obama has faced in enhancing investments in alternative energy technologies. Small interest-based coalitions have the clear political advantage when it comes to either maintaining the status quo or securing benefits from the political system. The writings of Mancur Olsen and the lackluster scorecard of climatologists and environmental groups versus energy interests point to the perverse problem of instituting even incremental solutions to global climate change. The perspective of the ordinary citizen and the collective goods problem is illustrated in Americans Actions to Limit Global Warming (December 19 2012). This report is based on the findings from a nationally representative survey Climate Change and the American Mind. The following survey results underscore the grim realities of collective behavior: Question: Thinking about the energy saving actions youre already taking and those youd like to take over the next 12 months: If you did most of these things how much do you think it would reduce your personal contribution to global warming? Sept 2012 March 2012 Nov 2011 May 2011 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 Unweighted Number (980) (928) (902) (906) (913) (864) (1987) A lot 8% 8% 8% 7% 11% NA% 13% Some 24% 29% 24% 26% 27% NA% 36% A little 45% 42% 50% 48% 47% NA% 36% Not at All 21% 21% 18% 20% 16% NA% 16% (Base: Americans 18+ except those who are extremely or very sure global warming is not Happening) (Source: Climate Change in the American Mind December 2012) It is apparent that of those American that believe in global warming only 8 percent believe there their individual actions are making a significant difference. Forty-five percent see their personal actions as making a little difference. And in the latest survey 21% believe their actions are not making any difference. Clearly the public does not view personal action as having a consequent impact on global warming. They of course are correct. The political system is not responding to them nor is the market place. Other responses to key survey questions also support the barriers to collective action thesis: Question: [Did you] volunteer with or donated money to an organization working to reduce global warming? Sept 2012 March 2012 Nov 2011 May 2011 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 Unweighted Number 1061 1008 1000 1010 1024 1001 2164 Most of time 6+ * 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% Several times 4-5 2% 2% 2% 2% 3% 1% 1% A few times 2-3 8% 7% 8% 7% 4% 4% 4% Once 5% 5% 5% 7% 8% 6% 7% Never 80% 80% 73% 77% 78% 80% 85% Dont know 4% 5% 10% 6% 7% 8% 3% (Base: Americans 18+) (Source: Climate Change in the American Mind December 2012) An overwhelming majority (80%) of those surveyed never volunteered or contributed to an organization working to reduce global warming while only 2% donated a few times. This dismal record compares with energy interests that contribute millions to television ads town halls and direct lobbying to sustain an energy policy built upon the development of carbon-based energy sources. They also have the American Petroleum Institute (API) that is exceedingly well financed and stocked with economists supportive of a carbon future. During the last presidential election cycle API held multiple town halls for energy voters willing to hear the APIs version of the truth when it came to energy development. Of course it was a jobs message based upon the development of carbon-energy sources. Not even the most powerful environmental organization has had the resources to equal the API. Question: [Did you] write letters email or phone government officials about global warming? Sept 2012 March 2012 Nov 2011 May 2011 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 Unweighted Number 1061 1008 1000 1010 1024 1001 2164 Many times 6+ 1% 1% 1% 1% — 1% 1% Several times 4-5 1% 1% 2% 1% 2% 1% 1% A few times 2-3 6% 5% 6% 4% 4% 5% 3% Once 4% 4% 3% 4% 4% 4% 3% Never 85% 87% 80% 86% 84% 83% 89% Dont know 3% 3% 8% 4% 5% 6% 3% (Base: Americans 18+) (Source: Climate Change in the American Mind December 2012) The responses to this question demonstrate how difficult it is to motivate individual political action (at most minimal level). The responses show that 85% of those surveyed did not take political action by writing emailing or telephoning their elected officials about global warming. Imagine the difficulty in moving the entire United States economy away from carbon-based sources of energy as advocated by Dr. James Hansen. The responses to the previous survey question suggest that the advocacy efforts of climatologists that support a revolution in the way the United States uses energy are bound to fail. Indeed their monologue largely falls on deaf ears when it comes to Congress. Hypothesis II: The differing core beliefs of key interest groups will impede the development of a political consensus necessary to institute timely and fundamental policy changes. As important as the collective dynamics of group behavior in preventing change are the belief structures that inform various sides to the policy debate. Starting in the mid-1980s and continuing into first decade of the 21 st century Paul A. Sabatier and Hank Jenkins-Smith developed a framework for exploring long-term policy change simply called the Advocacy Coalition Framework (or ACF). This seminal framework was developed with an eye towards exploring the dynamics of change (and non-change) regarding environmental and energy policy. The primary components of this framework are as follows · Specific policy sectors (such as energy/climate) can be viewed best as a policy subsystem. · Change within a policy subsystem is best understood by taking a long-term view of policy change (usually a decade or more). · Policy subsystems are typically dominated by from 1-4 advocacy coalitions; each of which have their fundamental policy beliefs that define action and resist change. In the case of climate change there are at least three major coalitions and likely more. On first pass they would be Coalition One. the carbon-based energy development industry; including major energy development and transmission companies such as Shell Exxon-Mobile; key associations such as the American Petroleum Institute; key members of Congressional committees overseeing energy and natural resources; many members of Congress; conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation; some religious organizations and a minority of climatologists. This coalition can be called the Carbon-based Energy Development Coalition (CEDC). Coalition Two. Members of the environmental community such as the Environmental Defense Fund; advocates of alternative energy technologies and sources and related companies; certain long-standing primarily liberal Civic Associations such as the Commonwealth Club of California and significant segments of the American electorate. This coalition can be called the Carbon Reduction Advocacy Coalition (CRAC). Coalition Three. Most members of the scientific community engaged in climate research; prestigious publically-chartered scientific organizations such as the Academies of Science; certain moderate and liberal members of Congress; and agencies of government such as NASA and NOAA. Currently the President is also a member. This coalition can be called the Carbon Reduction Scientific Advocacy Coalition (CRSAC). · As briefly noted above advocacy coalitions are bound together by a series of beliefs ranging from deep core beliefs (involving ontological and normative beliefs) policy core beliefs (key policy commitments and causal perceptions regarding the promotion and protection of self-interests) and secondary aspect beliefs (narrower more changeable beliefs that typically govern tactical or instrumental strategies). · The ACF assumes the policy core not deep core beliefs are the glue that holds advocacy coalitions together because they represent basic normative and empirical commitments within the primary domain of policy elites (Sabatier 1999 pg. 122). Thus change that affects policy core beliefs of a key advocacy coalition will be very difficult to institute if comprise between advocacy coalitions is a necessary prerequisite. · Fundamental policy change involves the interplay of endogenous factors (such as beliefs and advocacy coalitions) and exogenous factors (such as reoccurring major climate events). Hence crisis is a condition for change. · Policy learning across advocacy coalitions is often a necessary condition for change. If endogenous factors (core policy beliefs) prevent consensus or learning on the probable causes of exogenous events change is likely to be delayed or avoided altogether. · Policy learning and resultant change is more likely when advocacy coalitions engage on secondary aspects that do not threaten policy core beliefs CEDC which believes in the · Policy change is also more likely when the political governing coalition is changed. Since climate change has become a partisan issue major climate policy reforms would be more likely (but not by any means a certainty) if the Democrats and their environmental allies captured both houses of Congress while retaining the Presidency. Using the ACF as a guide the likelihood of significant policy change leading to significant reductions in carbon emissions is unlikely given the policy core beliefs of the three advocacy coalitions identified above. Specifically one policy core belief held by some members of the CRAC is that there has to be dramatic alteration in the energy sources used in this country and that significant changes would involve such things as the use of a carbon tax and the redistribution of revenues back to the taxpayer. This policy core belief of courses runs directly up against the policy core beliefs of the CEDC including the enduring right and necessity of developing carbon-based resources the primacy of the market and the constitutional right to maximize profits. Moreover the CRAC does not generally share the dire predictions of the CEDC. Although it often gives a pro forma endorsement of alternative energy sources especially when these endorsements have a significant public relations value. While the CRAC and the CRSAC share many of the same policy core beliefs together they are generally not a match for the smaller economically-based CEDC. Moreover the current political governing coalition contains pro-CEDC elements with more than sufficient institutional resources to block major changes. Given the economic and political power of the CEDC dependence of the U.S. economy on fossil fuels the need for jobs and economic growth and new fossil fuel discoveries that promise energy independence fundamental change is all but impossible under current conditions. Differences of beliefs within the CRAC and CRSAC regarding the viability of market-oriented (cap and trade) versus government-regulatory frameworks (taxation of carbon emissions and redistribution of revenues to citizens) further complicates the debate and reduces the likelihood that significant policy solutions can be instituted. Again any government-based carbon reduction taxation scheme also triggers core policy beliefs within the CEDC that interpret new taxes on carbon and the redistribution of revenues as anathema to business and capitalism. Indeed the possibility of change is dependent on exogenous factors such as severe and repetitive climatic events and irrefutable scientific data pointing to man-induced carbon emissions. This could cause CEDC members to rethink their positions. However if CRSAC members are correct— by the time such synergistically interacting events occur new awareness and the resultant policies may have little or no effect on reversing the climate change process. At the same time the opposition to nuclear power and even the deep geological disposal of spent nuclear fuel voiced by certain members of the CRAC complicates the institution of intermediate solutions that are more palatable than the accelerated transformation of the energy-economy into one based primarily on energy efficiency solar and wind power. It is also possible that enhanced support for nuclear power could produce fractures with the CEDC coalition. Hypothesis III: The reality that climate change policies create winners and losers (i.e. a variant of the zero sum game called the Prisoners Dilemma) will create asymmetrical levels of political opposition blocking fundamental reforms. The use of game theory in combination institutional rational choice theories of political change also suggests that comprehensive solutions to global climate change are unlikely. Specifically when we view opposing advocacy coalitions from the perspective of game theory it is rational why these coalitions would be unlikely to develop a consensus to resolve climate change. Both the CEDC and CRAC tend to view climate change in absolutist terms. Science points CRAC towards solutions that are an overwhelming departure from the status quo; indeed they would revolutionize the economy by rapidly moving it away from carbon-based energy sources. Also it is possible that the dislocations created by this revolution could be as dire as many of the effects of climate change. Remember we are talking about the largest carbon-based economy in the world rapidly moving towards a non carbon energy future. Many advocates within the CRAC and CRSAC view anything less than revolutionary change as insufficient and they use empirical models and simulations to back their policy positions. On the other side of the equation anything but incremental changes such as pro forma investments in alternative energy sources are viewed as a fundamental threat to the interests of the CEDAC. What is set up is the variant of prisoners dilemma game where only sub-optimal solutions are possible: Cooperation is usually analyzed in game theory by means of a non-zero-sum game called the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” (Axelrod 1984). The two players in the game can choose between two moves either “cooperate” or “defect”. The idea is that each player gains when both cooperate but if only one of them cooperates the other one who defects will gain more. If both defect both lose (or gain very little) but not as much as the “cheated” cooperator whose cooperation is not returned. The whole game situation and its different outcomes can be summarized by table 1 where hypothetical “points” are given as an example of how the differences in result might be quantified. Prisoner Dilemma Payoff Matrix Action of Advocacy Coalition AVersus of Advocacy Coalition B Cooperate Defect Cooperate Fairly good [+ 5] Bad [ – 10] Defect Good [+ 10] Mediocre (Source: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/PRISDIL.html) Such a distribution of losses and gains seems natural for situations involving the development of climate change policies since the cooperating advocacy coalition whose action is not returned will lose resources to the defecting advocacy coalition without either of them being able to collect the additional gain coming from the “synergy” of their cooperation. The Prisoner’s dilemma is a form of the general zero-sum game wherein there are distinct barriers against mutual cooperation: each gets 0 when both defect or when one of them cooperates the defector gets + 10 and the cooperator – 10 in total 0. On the other hand if both cooperate the resulting synergy creates an additional gain that makes the sum positive: each of them gets 5 in total 10. Hence in debates between conflicting climate change advocacy coalitions there is always a significant incentive to defect from legislation involving major controversial policy changes. Hypothesis IV: The inherent differences of interest between nations in the context of an anarchic international environment will always produce defections and suboptimal solutions. If gaining political support in the United States for comprehensive policies to stop global warming climate are seen to be difficult; the problem of gaining international cooperation is more difficult by several orders of magnitude. This situation is best explained by the stag hunt a game first proposed by the philosopher Jean-Jacques RousseauIt is a game which describes a conflict between optimal and suboptimal solutions under conditions where there is no centralized authority (i.e. the international anarchic environment). The anarchic international environment generally limits international agreements and protocols to suboptimal solutions. A suboptimal solution would be one wherein the solution does not adequately solve the problem at hand. In global change terminology it would be an adaptive approach rather than a mitigation strategy. The following is a short description of the stag hunt: Two hunters go out for the day looking for some prey. In this case imagine that the hunters are nations that are trying to form a cooperative strategy to combat global warming. There are three possible targets…a large stag (or an end to carbon emissions) and a couple of hares (e.g. an incremental initiative to accelerate reforestation or restrict the building of houses on the ocean). The only way to get a stag is for both hunters to work together. Or if you are a nation it for both nations to work hand-in-hand to develop an optimal strategy such as curtailing national global carbon emissions by 80 percent. However if assume it takes at least two hunters to kill a stag (or major developed nations) and one goes for the stag (optimal climate change policy) and the other goes for a hare (sub-optimal incremental climate change policy); the one that stays with seek the stag (or climate change policy equivalent) will end up with nothing. This situation is exemplified by one nation (or coalition of nations) significantly curtailing emissions and the other one (or coalition of nations) defecting and adhering to the status quo (exploitation of oil and gas) with minor changes. If youre hunting for two hares by yourself you are more likely to get two for sure. If both hunters cooperatively go for the two hares each is more likely to get at least one; and therefore both will have dinner (or some reduction in emissions). The stag hunts a game which describes the structural conflict between minimizing and maximizing political cooperation. The game is used as a metaphor to illustrate the factors that work against cooperation in order to kill the stag (the equivalent of the highest payoff in terms of reducing climate change). Indeed killing the stag is the equivalent to ending or significantly diminishing carbon emissions within a constrained time frame. 2X2 Game Matrix: Stag Hunt Hunter 2/Nation 2 Stag Hare Hunter 1/ Nation 1 Stag 100100 1050 Hare 5010 5050 Clearly the best strategy is where both countries (coalitions of countries) cooperate and develop a strategy that reduces carbon emissions by an amount adequate to keep global climate change contained. The global community wins the highest payoff in terms of a stable climate. However if some nations stay the course and the other nations go for the equivalent of the hare or worse the nations with the more ambitious programs may lose big. The nations that move away from carbon energy sources are left holding the bag in terms of costly alternative energy investments with unproven payoffs in a world still exploiting cheaper carbon-based energy sources. Moreover defecting nations may gain by free-riding off the policy changes and the new technologies instituted by those that continue to seek the stag. The rational strategy for all nations is for all to pursue hares (or suboptimal solutions). While these nations will have lower payoffs all will marginally benefit from some degree of reduced carbon emissions. In the stag hunt no one nation can kill the stag so if a country or hunter defects the stag (comprehensive systemic climate solutions) seeking countries may be left in the policy cold. Notably however if we have multiple countries attempting to cooperate to solve the global warming problem the relative payoffs will be determined by the size and economic position of the cooperators versus the defectors. If the cooperators are the larger and more powerful countries and the defectors are smaller countries with less power and significantly lower Gross National Products the larger more developed nations may win in the end by restricting imports of carbon-based energy resources in favor of the non-carbon energy sources. Distribution of global emissions underscores the need for broad multilateral cooperation in mitigating climate change. Fifteen to twenty countries are responsible for roughly 75 percent ofglobal emissions but no one country accounts for more than about 26 percent. Efforts to cut emissionsmitigationmust therefore be global. Without international cooperation and coordination some states may free ride on others’ efforts or even exploit uneven emissions controls to gain competitive advantage. And because the impacts of climate change will be felt around the world efforts to adapt to climate changeadaptationwill need to be global too. Unfortunately it is clear that global efforts to control carbon emissions are
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