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Global climate change policy – special issue of Portal

The COP17 President

Last week, as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban entered its final days, Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies released a special issue on global climate change policy, guest edited by Ian McGregor and I.

The failure of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to deliver a binding international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions raised questions about the ability of the existing global governance regime to deliver an effective response to climate change. In the wake of Copenhagen, diverse alternative approaches to global climate governance were proposed and discussed. In this special issue of Portal, we have gathered together six diverse articles that each look at the climate governance problem through a very different lens. While all the authors agree that the climate governance system is failing humanity and is in need of repair, they do not agree on how best to respond. Their proposed responses range from minor reforms to radical overturning of the existing regime. While by no means an exhaustive coverage of the proposed alternatives to global climate change policy post-Copenhagen, the articles in this special issue offer a sample of policy and governance experiments that deserve to be tested in practice.

Ian and I have co-authored an editorial piece called Climate Governance is Failing Us: We All Need to Respond. I’ve also co-authored an article evaluating the World Wide Views on Global Warming project with Jade Herriman, called Deliberative Mini-publics and the Global Deliberative  System: Insights from an Evaluation of World Wide Views on Global Warming in Australia.

Several of the articles grew out of contributions to an excellent conference on Democratizing Climate Governance held at the Australian National University in 2010.

When we began the process of pulling together this special issue, I had no concept of the level of effort that goes into getting an issue of a peer-reviewed journal out. It’s been a long, slow and sometimes frustrating process. Despite that, I’m really happy with the end result. In some ways, the final set of six articles sit awkwardly together, given that the authors argue for very different approaches. But I think they serve to highlight the need for multiple responses to global climate governance, rather than the single response of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Credits: Image by UNclimatechange

This entry was posted in: Projects


I am an Associate Professor at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, where I work to create change towards sustainable futures. I live in Thirroul, Australia with my wife Danielle and kids Euan and Nina.

1 Comment

  1. Great project!

    Are you still collecting alternative global climate responses? Could reframe the problem into the economic domain, with a successful solution being a new economic model where growth of economic activity comes from faster cuts to emissions and faster shifts to circular resource flows. Could implement this with an externality-busting market-based tool, as described here,


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