The mantle of climate leadership is shifting to developing and emerging economies. In the past, if one wanted to find the best examples of ambitious climate policymaking, they would have looked to states such as Denmark, Finland or the United Kingdom. China, Brazil, South Korea and Ethiopia would not have been on the list.
Today, with a growing number of countries making ambitious commitments to mitigate carbon emissions, we cannot neglect these important efforts. Indeed, some have even argued that that policies of developing countries are now likely to do more to limit emissions than those currently being implemented by industrialized states.
Yet research on climate politics and policymaking has tended to remain stubbornly focused on the experiences of industrialized states; climate governance in the developing world has been understudied. Further, the research that does exist has tended to focus on a select few cases, neglecting the many compelling instances of climate policymaking that can be found elsewhere.
This is the important gap that Climate Governance in the Developing World aims to fill. It does so by analyzing a set of important new cases that have rarely, if ever, been looked at by scholars of climate politics.
It includes, for example, chapters on relatively understudied countries such as South Korea, Mexico, Ethiopia and Mozambique, which have distinguished themselves as climate leaders in several respects. It also examines the problems of implementing ambitious climate policies in countries such as Indonesia and Costa Rica with major forest assets. A chapter on Argentina, a country that started out aiming to be a climate leader but which shifted towards inaction as the political climate changed, is included as well. Finally, of course, our book also contains chapters that offer fresh reexaminations of some of the better-studied developing countries, such as China, India and Brazil.
Each of the chapters provides an overview of the state of climate policymaking in one of the twelve countries the book covers, as well as an explanation of the policies that have been implemented. It documents the policies that are in place, and how those policies have been implemented, drawing and reflecting upon the theoretical literature that currently exists in the process.
In doing so, the book offers compelling insights into the way in which international forces, such as diplomatic pressures, rising energy prices and the growth of climate finance, have influenced domestic politics; the way that leaders have managed the policymaking process, balancing the wishes of voters and competing interest groups, for example; and the way that transnational actors, such as international organizations and private consulting firms, have shifted views on the perceived costs and benefits of low-carbon growth and the appropriateness of ambitious climate policymaking in developing states.
Overall, the book eschews explanations that try to account for all the relevant cases with only one or two variables. Instead, it utilizes a range of cases to comment on the existing theoretical literature and it draws inductively on those cases to develop a set of new propositions – set out in the introduction – which can illuminate distinct subsets of cases and which can serve as the basis for future research in the area.
Ultimately, much remains to be done before we adequately understand the politics of climate change. But if we are to make progress we cannot overlook the growing number of positive cases appearing across the developing world. Climate Governance in the Developing World offers a first step in that direction.
David Held is Master of University College and Professor of Politics and International Relations at Durham University.
Charles Roger is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia and Liu Scholar at the Liu Institute for Global Issues.
Eva-Maria Nag is the Executive Editor of Global Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.