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Unsustainability in climate policy: climate change policies in the era of rising nationalism/populism

May 14, 2019


Ramiro Steinmann Petrasso

The current climate change situation has caused optimism to wane, to say the least. Temperatures keep rising and the dreaded 1.5C mark seems all the closer as the days, weeks, months, and years pass by.  As the severity of the situation continues to become clearer and denial gets more difficult, the response from the public has tilted in favor of strong and decisive action to turn our fate around and avoid the effects that have yet to come. However, the response from politicians around the world has not yet risen to match those of the common people. As is frequent in many areas, the political decision-making progress has resulted in several dead attempts and half-hearted moves to deal with the problems stemming from anthropogenic climate change, countering the growing amount of awareness and support for action on the issue.

To make matters worse, the past few years have been full of political turbulence around the world, with the rise of governments rejecting the global status quo and favoring a retreat from international engagement. The unpredictable rise of these governments, often called “populist” and/or “nationalist”, has made its impact on the climate change decision-making debate as well, with several of them resisting the call for action and even perpetrating the movement to deny that humankind has had a hand in causing the matter. This trend comes at a critical time for global policymaking, as the influence of these governments is cutting into the momentum of the Paris Agreement and slowing down a process that was not exactly quick to begin with.

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