The Azimuth Project
Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks

Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks or COMPON is a research project designed to study the following questions:

  • Why, in the face of high risk predicted by the vast majority of credible experts, has the world done so little to decrease the risk (by mitigating its causes)?

  • Why have international agreements been so weak?

  • Why have different nations reacted more, or less, effectively to the call for mitigation?

  • How have their reactions affected the possibilities for international agreements?

  • And how, in the coming decades, will intensifying climate disasters affect these national and international processes?

The investigators write:

Comparative analysis of different national and area cases will indicate the causal factors causing the cross-case variation in their reception of IPCC and other scientific information. The hypothesized factors include: egalitarian stakeholder participation, culture of science and authority, demand profiles of strong interest groups, opportunities offered by political institutions, role of scientists as mediators, and network patterns of coalitions. Other factors include geophysical vulnerability, fossil fuel dependency, and levels of development and prosperity. To explain in a bit more detail, the causal hypotheses derive from both theory and observation. Theories of societal/political power, for instance, differ in their evaluation of the relative effectiveness of conflictual versus persuasive tactics by change agents. The latter indicates that “The more the political system provides venues for broadly representative and egalitarian stakeholder participation, the more the nation will mitigate CC [climate change].” In contrast, a conflict-oriented hypothesis argues, “The more that national interest groups defend fossil fuel consumption, the less the nation will mitigate CC.” Bringing in cultural theory, a resultant hypothesis states that “The more implicit the cultural acceptance of a rational-scientific worldview, the more the nation will mitigate CC.” Combining cultural and persuasion theory yields “The more centrality CC scientists have in policy communications networks, the more the nation will mitigate CC.” A paper by the PI describes 11 hypotheses in detail (available from author).

To collect the needed data for cross-national comparison and hypothesis testing, the project has active academic research teams at the level of international negotiations and in 14 significant or exemplary national or area cases: US, China, India, Brazil, Sweden, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Canada, New Zealand (NSF and otherwise funded). New cases are in formation (Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Nepal, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain). Another group, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), is using the Compon method to investigate national strategies and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through avoided deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD+, further information can be found on the UNFCCC web page. The research has started in Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Vietnam. Further countries (Peru, Nepal, and DRC) will be added in 2011. Taken together, these cases vary in factors hypothesized to cause differences in national mitigation reactions, policies, and outcomes, as well as in their international stances on the issue. Through their analytical comparison the project will discern causal configurations leading to different mitigation efforts and outcomes.

For more, see:

category: organizations