The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition
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The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition

Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate

This thoroughly revised Handbook provides an assessment of the scope and content of environmental sociology, and sets out the intellectual and practical challenges posed by the urgent need for policy and action to address accelerating environmental change.
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Chapter 23: Neoliberal Regimes of Environmental Governance: Climate Change, Biodiversity and Agriculture in Australia

Stewart Lockie


1 Stewart Lockie Introduction In his 2008 report to the Australian government, economic adviser Ross Garnaut argued that, on the balance of probabilities, continued growth in atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations will heighten the risk of dangerous climate change. Echoing the 2007 report of UK economic adviser Nicholas Stern, Garnaut went on to argue that delays in action to address global climate change will impose greater costs, in the long term, than will serious and immediate measures to reduce anthropogenic GHG emissions and adapt to unavoidable climate impacts. While the Stern and Garnaut reports have attracted their critics (many of which focus on technical aspects of the analyses), there can be little doubt that they have played a major role in shifting the momentum in political debate away from so-called ‘climate-change sceptics’. Further, despite considerable uncertainty over the magnitude, timing and distribution of future climate-change impacts, average temperatures in Australia have already risen 0.9 °C since 1910 while streamflows into the water supplies of Australia’s major cities have fallen to between 25 and 65 per cent of their long-term average over the last decade (Garnaut, 2008). For many Australians, the notion of climate change has become less an artefact of arcane scientific theorizing and more a way to explain their own experience of water restrictions, severe weather events and rising food prices. Failure to grasp the rising public expectation of political leadership on this issue is recognized as one of the factors behind the then-incumbent Australian government’s loss at the...

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