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Solar radiation modification: a “Silver Bullet” climate policy for populist and authoritarian regimes?


Michaelowa, Axel (2021). Solar radiation modification: a “Silver Bullet” climate policy for populist and authoritarian regimes? Global Policy, 12(S1):119-128.

Abstract

Populist and authoritarian leaders are increasingly coming to power in large countries. They often have a climate sceptic approach and do away with mitigation policies when coming to power. Increasing impacts of extreme meteorological events linked to climate change could lead to a situation where the supporters of the populist leader or elites crucial for the survival of an authoritarian regime are pushing to do something to address climate change. In order not to lose power, the leader may look for quick and cheap solutions. In such a context, solar radiation modification (SRM), for example, by stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), will become very attractive as it is likely to have low costs and rapid effects. Populist or authoritarian governments are unlikely to care for negative impacts of SRM abroad as they often act nationalistically with an explicit disdain for multilateral solutions. We discuss the incentive structure and political economy that populist and authoritarian leaders may face regarding unilateral use of SRM and elaborate how the international community could try to prevent or at least ‘contain’ such unilateral uses of SRM. Unfortunately, such ‘containment’ is contingent on the most powerful states not being populist or authoritarian regimes.

Abstract

Populist and authoritarian leaders are increasingly coming to power in large countries. They often have a climate sceptic approach and do away with mitigation policies when coming to power. Increasing impacts of extreme meteorological events linked to climate change could lead to a situation where the supporters of the populist leader or elites crucial for the survival of an authoritarian regime are pushing to do something to address climate change. In order not to lose power, the leader may look for quick and cheap solutions. In such a context, solar radiation modification (SRM), for example, by stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), will become very attractive as it is likely to have low costs and rapid effects. Populist or authoritarian governments are unlikely to care for negative impacts of SRM abroad as they often act nationalistically with an explicit disdain for multilateral solutions. We discuss the incentive structure and political economy that populist and authoritarian leaders may face regarding unilateral use of SRM and elaborate how the international community could try to prevent or at least ‘contain’ such unilateral uses of SRM. Unfortunately, such ‘containment’ is contingent on the most powerful states not being populist or authoritarian regimes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Global and Planetary Change
Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Social Sciences & Humanities > Law
Uncontrolled Keywords:law, management, monitoring, policy and law, political science and international relations, economics and econometrics, global and planetary change
Language:English
Date:April 2021
Deposited On:21 Oct 2021 15:18
Last Modified:25 Jun 2024 01:45
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1758-5880
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12872