Comparative Politics

B01 - Comparative Climate Politics

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 08:30am to 10:00am | Location:

Imagining the Infinite Potentials for Climate Violence: From Ideas to Crimes: Benedict Schriefers (Wilfrid Laurier University), Andrew Basso (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Abstract: New governance patterns that combat the effects of climate change have recently begun to institutionalize across many types of political systems. However, current atrocities studies literatures point to the potentials of climate violence, largely focusing on material challenges like resource scarcity, changing climactic zones, and weakened state authority as key variables leading to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Few of these literatures, however, examine a potential ideational cause of climate violence: infinite growth. This paper introduces and problematizes ‘infinite growth’ as a new ideology-based concept to help explain and predict the possible linkages of climate change and political violence. Infinite growth serves as the axiomatic basis on which individual satisfaction and socioeconomic health is measured. Past perpetrator regimes have conceptualized imagined resource scarcity as a motivator to incite and justify violence against out-group populations. These regimes employ ideological understandings of power projection to ensure infinite growth for in-group populations. Thus, violence serves as a tool to secure new imagined utopias predicated on the criminal destruction of targeted communities for the survival of others. This paper examines these past ideologies employed by numerous perpetrator regimes and projects this knowledge into the climate change scenario where resource scarcity could become material reality to predict the emergence of future destructive ideologies that promote atrocity crimes. Ultimately, this paper highlights the importance of ideational variables in the potential perpetration of climate violence in order to prevent future crimes.

How parties' policy responsibility affects their exchanges with interest groups: comparing Switzerland and Canada: Steven Eichenberger (Université de Genève)
Abstract: The relationship between interest groups and parties is most often conceptualized as a mutually beneficial exchange relationship. Interest groups seeking to influence public policy furnish parties with “legislative subsidies” (expertise). Such exchanges might lead parties to set priorities or develop preferences that do not correspond to those of the party electorate. Parties thus have an interest in minimizing these risks. This in turn should have repercussions on interest group strategies. We hence suggest comparing interest groups’ strategies in two political systems that differ in terms of policy responsibility: the Canadian Westminster system (clear policy responsibility) and the Swiss consensus system (obscured policy responsibility). When policy responsibility cannot be attributed clearly to a governing party, then parties (both in government and opposition) have less to manage the risks related to their exchanges with interest groups. We compare the strategies adopted by interest groups in Switzerland and Canada in the context of three policy issues (environment, immigration, health) treated in both polities. Through semi-structured interviews with interest group leaders, we assess the extent to which the party leadership constitutes a target in interest groups’ lobbying. We expect Swiss interest groups to sidestep the party leadership and focus predominantly on MPs considered to be authoritative in the relevant domains. In contrast, Canadian interest groups focus on both the Prime Minister (leader of the opposition) as well on the (shadow) cabinet.

Climate Migration: Public Opinion and Policymaking on a Novel Migration Driver: Gabriel De Roche (University of California, San Diego), Tom K. Wong (University of California, San Diego)
Abstract: The connection between migration and climate change has received increased attention from scholars of human mobility in recent years, though few political scientists have studied this emerging phenomenon. Despite the potentially large migration impacts of climate change, we know little about how linking climate change and immigration might change both the public opinion and policymaking dynamics of immigration policy. Canonical political science models of immigration policymaking predict an expansionary bias—with policymakers responsive to interest groups favouring expansion even in the face of public opinion that, on average, favours restriction—though this prediction clearly fails in instances when immigration flows are highly salient for voters. This paper offers a novel theory of immigration policymaking on emerging migration drivers. In the climate case, we theorize that issue linkage (that is, linking the issues of climate change and migration) expands the winning coalition in favour of expansionary immigration policy both at the public opinion and interest group levels by including policies for safe and regular migration such as “special humanitarian visas” for climate displaced people in the menu of pro-climate policy interventions. This paper tests our theoretical predictions with both experimental evidence of public opinion change in the United States and Canada and descriptive evidence of coalition-building at the interest group and legislator levels in advanced industrialized democracies. Our findings contribute to a growing literature on climate migration, as well as to our understanding of the dynamics of immigration policymaking in democracies.

Climate action, energy transition and support for renewable: conceptual refinement: Huong Le (University of Alberta), Lori Thorlakson (University of Alberta)
Abstract: Energy transition is one of the greatest technological, economic and social transformations that the world faces, necessitated by the threat of climate change. The world’s ability to meet the Paris Agreement targets will depend, to a large extent, on our ability to decarbonize our energy systems, a process with deep economic and social implications, and one that is inherently political (Aklin and Urpelainen, 2013). While there is a great deal of research that seeks to explain support for (or opposition to) climate change action, decarbonisation and adoption of renewables, there is a fair degree of heterogeneity in how these outcomes are framed and defined. This matters both for theory development and for understanding the implications and limitations of empirical findings. This paper undertakes a conceptual and empirical review of the definition and operationalization of energy transition in the literature with the goal of identifying how and to what extent support for climate change action, support for energy transition and support for renewable energy are related, and how they are conceptually and empirically distinct. This refinement of the dependent variable will allow us to identify more precisely, and differentiate between, some of the political factors and processes that drive support or opposition, such as status threat, economic identity and economic loss, efficacy and ideology.