Q14 - Adressing Climate Change: International and Domestic Perspectives

Date: Jun 13 | Time: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Jérome Couture (Universtité Laval)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : David Houle (Public sector)

This panel offers an exploration into the multifaceted challenges of climate change, encompassing themes of governance, public perception, and global engagement. Topics discussed include: the role of information and communication in shaping climate policies and public opinion online; the intersection of climate change, international diplomacy and national policy; the evolving narrative of climate change in the context of public health; and, collaborative efforts across different levels of governance, focusing on cities. The overall objective of the panel is to shed light on the complex dynamics of climate change, showing the contribution of a comprehensive approach that integrates international and domestic policies, communication, and active participation from various stakeholders in the global effort to address this pressing challenge.

The Online Climate Policy Crisis: Misinformation and Disinformation in the Digital Age: Andrew Heffernan (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: While climate change must be countered through effective mitigation and adaptation approaches at the global, national, and local levels, implementing effective policies to do so can only be accomplished through buy in by a critical mass of citizens. However, we know that to-date this remains a challenging prospect to accomplish both in the Global North and Global South. While countries in both regions face many different challenges in doing so, there are also a number of shared roadblocks to attaining popular support for effective environmental governance. Beyond the types of challenges themselves, various states both experience their impacts asymmetrically, while simultaneously being equipped with different tools for treating them. As democracy is not a binary category of government but instead a multi-dimensional spectrum along which states are constantly struggling, it becomes pivotal to develop policies that deal with modern challenges while taking advantage of new technologies and techniques. This paper aims to analyze the type of digital tools that exist which channel the types of information and misinformation that contributes to informing increasing numbers of people. How these information flows are managed and leveraged is pivotal for effectively governing in general, and specifically for environmental and climate governance. Climate change is both the quintessential global issue, while also one that has seen the most polarization in recent years. As such, understanding the way broader global politics manifest through tools like social media and resultantly impact policymaking becomes integral to effectively fighting the climate crisis.

The Arctic, Climate Change, and Environmental Diplomacy in the Study of Canadian Foreign Policy: Wilfrid Greaves (University of Victoria)
Abstract: In this article, we examine linkages between three prominent concepts in post-Cold War foreign and security policy in Canada: the Arctic; climate change, and environmental diplomacy. In particular, we examine how each is conceptually connected to the others, and to the broader frames of foreign policy and security. To do this, we undertook a quantitative analysis of the prevalence of articles on these topics in six academic journals since 1989. Our findings indicate that, contrary to their relative prominence in Canadian foreign policy practice during this time, the Arctic, climate change, and environmental diplomacy are all marginal to scholarship on Canadian foreign and security policy. Moreover, the linkages among these three concepts are more limited than an empirical understanding of their connections to Canadian foreign policy practice would suggest. We outline the methodology of our literature review for Arctic, climate change, and environmental diplomacy within Canadian foreign and security scholarship, present our findings, and discuss their significance for our understanding of these topics and for the broader field of Canadian foreign policy studies.

Reframing Climate Change as a Public Health Problem: Insights from an Experimental Survey in Canada After the 2023 Wildfire Season: Alizee Pillod (Université de Montréal), Erick Lachapelle (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: Climate change represents a major threat to public health in Canada and elsewhere. Since the late 2000s, a growing number of public health professionals across the country have pushed for a greater attention to the health dimension of the problem. This article explores the reasons why the economic and environmental frames have continued to dominate climate conversations even after the emergence of a public health frame which is thought to be less polarizing. While several studies have already demonstrated the effectiveness of such a frame in Canada, I hypothesize that the recent record-breaking and devastating wildfires and the air toxicity that followed in 2023 have possibly created the necessary conditions for a frame replacement. Indeed, a large body of literature on agenda-setting shows that the occurrence of critical events can drastically modify people’s mindset and, therefore, lead to a change of a problem’s definition. To verify this hypothesis, I will conduct an experimental survey exploring Canadian’s reactions to the public health frame in the aftermath of the wildfire season. I will measure (1) prior consideration of the link between climate change and health compared to the link between climate change and the economy, (2) affective assessment of climate health impacts compared to climate economic impacts, (3) unprompted knowledge of climate health impacts compared to climate economic impacts, and (4) the level of trust in public health professionals compared to economists. The findings will then be compared to those of the studies conducted prior to the event in question.

Multilevel Climate Governance: Assessing Citizen Perspectives on Governmental Responsibility: Jérémy Gilbert (Université Laval), Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh (Université Laval)
Abstract: Climate action is undertaken by various players across multiple levels of government. While federal and provincial governments often take the lead in climate policy, municipalities possess the tools to make significant contributions and play a key role in enabling businesses and citizens to participate. This article examines climate responsibility as perceived by citizens. Drawing on data from a survey (n = 1500) conducted in Canada in 2022, which explored perceptions of climate change and actions, it scrutinizes the perceived responsibilities of government levels and citizens themselves. The findings reveal that citizens are deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change and are eager to see societal changes. However, they tend to assign greater responsibility for climate action to the higher tiers of government. The article posits that cities can be pivotal by equipping citizens who are ready to engage with the necessary tools. This study distinctively contributes to the discourse on climate action by highlighting the discrepancy between the responsibilities that citizens perceive and their readiness to take action. Previous research has often centered on federal and provincial roles; this study shifts the focus to the municipal role and citizen empowerment, underscoring the importance of an integrated, multilevel governance approach for effectively mobilizing civic engagement.