Power, Protest, Norms and Networks: Fossil fuels and the new politics of climate change

Recent years have seen a surge in political campaigns targeting the financing, production, transportation and large-scale consumption of fossil fuels. These campaigns typically seek to have both an immediate, local impact on particular fossil fuel activities and to delegitimise the fossil fuel industry as a precursor to more stringent regulation of its practices.

Partly in response to this activism, governments in growing numbers are introducing policies directly targeting fossil fuel activities, including strategies to phase-out coal-fired power generation, bans on new oil and gas exploration, and fossil fuel divestments from sovereign wealth funds.

New international networks and platforms are, in turn, emerging to facilitate international cooperation with respect to such policies—for instance, the Powering Past Coal Alliance, launched in November 2017. All of this activity is contributing to the emergence of nascent global moral norms against fossil fuels.

Understood as an emerging set of governance practices, this combination of state and non-state activities looks markedly different from the “treaties, targets and trading” paradigm of climate governance that predominated for much of the last quarter century. The normative frameworks, values, empirical assumptions, policy mechanisms and objects of regulation differ strikingly between the two paradigms.

Drawing on a suite of recent publications on “Anti-Fossil Fuel Norms”, supply-side climate policy, the normative foundations of climate policies, and fossil fuel bans, Fergus Green will explain how the new politics of fossil fuels mobilises grassroots supporters, challenges the legitimacy of the fossil fuel industry, builds global moral norms against fossil fuels, and facilitates international cooperation.


About the speaker

Fergus Green is a researcher at the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE), where he has been based since 2012. From January 2014 to October 2015 Fergus was a Policy Analyst and Research Advisor to Professor Nicholas Stern at the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics & Policy, where his work focused on the governance, politics and ethics of climate change mitigation.

Fergus is currently in the final year of a PhD in Political Science (political theory) in the LSE Department of Government, which considers how governments should deal with the transitional losses and gains caused by legislative change. He is a member of the Australian research team (ANU and University of Melbourne) on the IDDRI-led project, “Research and Dialogue on the Future of Coal”.

He has also recently completed a research project on fossil fuel politics and governance. Originally from Melbourne, Fergus began his career as a corporate lawyer at Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens), where he specialised in climate change, energy, environmental and water regulation. He remains an Associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne.
www.fergusgreen.net @fergusgreen R.F.Green@lse.ac.uk

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