Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips
Chapter 23: The international political economy of governing carbon
How should 'we' govern carbon? More precisely, how should we govern carbon: in a global world where direct intergovernmental and public control over the actors and processes which extract and burn most carbon is either weak and indirect or often nonexistent; in a carbon-constrained world faced with dangerous levels of climate change, but in which political responses to the threat fall well short of what the science suggests is required; and in a world of extreme poverty and inequality in which large increases in carbon associated with energy use will be required to meet the basic needs of millions of the world's inhabitants? The first point refers to such issues as the weak and fragmented nature of global energy governance, where governments continue to resist the concession of power to regional and global institutions over a sector of such high strategic importance (Florini and Sovacool 2009; Newell 2011). The second refers to the scale of cooperation, political action and finance required to keep temperature increases below 2_C compared with preindustrial levels (the stated aim of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord), amid calls for US$100 billion to be made available annually by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation actions, and all in the context of a global financial crisis. The third refers to the 1.6 billion people who are still without access to electricity, who are the target of the UN's Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
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