The Science and Policy of Greenhouse Gas Management: A study of Australian and British stakeholder understanding, demands and expectations within the anthropogenic climate change discourse

Graham Farebrother (2011). The Science and Policy of Greenhouse Gas Management: A study of Australian and British stakeholder understanding, demands and expectations within the anthropogenic climate change discourse PhD Thesis, School of Geography, Planning & Env Management, The University of Queensland.

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Author Graham Farebrother
Thesis Title The Science and Policy of Greenhouse Gas Management: A study of Australian and British stakeholder understanding, demands and expectations within the anthropogenic climate change discourse
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning & Env Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-07
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor Bob Beeton
Professor Neal Menzies
Total pages 306
Total colour pages 13
Total black and white pages 293
Language eng
Subjects 04 Earth Sciences
Abstract/Summary This study examines the science and policy interactions of greenhouse gas management (GHG) in Australia and the UK. It takes an historic approach, detailing how human recognition of Earth System impacts developed. As perturbations to different aspects of the Earth System were increasingly recognised, concerns grew for the sustainability of the natural world, and consequently for the sustainability of the economic system that underpins human societies. Over time, impacts and problems of increasing complexity have been identified, and it has become evident that an ad hoc manner of economic advance cannot be perpetuated. Much global and nation state effort is currently dedicated to designing and implementing policies to mitigate and manage the expected far-reaching impacts associated with anthropogenic climate change (ACC). The ACC discourse has progressed rapidly in recent times. Speculation of human interference in the Earth’s climate began in the 19th century; this speculation progressed into warnings in the 1930s, followed by quantitative measurements of atmospheric perturbation in the 1950s. Fears of anthropogenic disruption to the Earth System in the form of climate change have since resulted in international agreements, underpinned by concepts of sustainable development, and the precautionary principle. During the second half of the 20th century, civil society grew in strength and adopted a more powerful role in decision making processes and governance within many nation states; a process that has been actively encouraged through the activities of the United Nations. This change, in conjunction with a growing Green ethic, driven by the observation of environmental damage and impacts, has enveloped many aspects of human activity. As the level of industrialisation has increased in both scope and geographic range, environmental impacts have grown from local to regional to global and, with the onset of predictive computer modelling, bleak scenarios of future conditions have ensued. A growing knowledge base pertaining to various aspects of ACC has merged with both the expectations of an increasingly more powerful civil society, and an increasingly pervasive Green ethic. Following the introduction of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, GHG management has been at the fore of global and nation state policy discussions. The ACC discourse has since become increasingly embroiled with issues of sustainability; equity between developed and developing countries; and, the maintenance and promotion of the economic positions of various developed countries and trading blocs. Because of the broad association of GHGs with a variety of human activities, the discourse is seen by many as an umbrella cause. The goal of reducing anthropogenic GHG perturbation of the atmosphere has been coopted to heighten the awareness of many environmental and social problems, and to underpin the promotion of a range of vested interests. To understand the role of science in the development of GHG management policies, this study examines stakeholder understanding, perceptions, and expectations of both climate change science and mitigation policies. Interviews conducted in the UK and Australia, that targeted vocal and affected stakeholders, suggested that a high level of expectation is associated with the outcomes of GHG management policies; beyond the direct minimisation of climate interference, other environmental and societal improvements are expected. The ACC discourse is associated with a broad swath of issues that are found within contemporary society and deemed to be in need of resolution. The discourse is not only linked to existing and well known issues such as tropical rainforest deforestation, developing country poverty alleviation, biodiversity decline, and waste management but also to emerging problems including resource decline, rampant consumerism, falling human health standards, environmental degradation, and low levels of societal wellbeing. These associations are shown to be strong even when stakeholders have limited knowledge of, or even regard for, the underlying science of ACC. As a consequence of these many and varied associations, that have different sets of emphases from different elements of civil society, and in different locations, instigating universally acceptable GHG management policy is suggested as being problematic. Findings from this research suggest that if a greater focus on quantifiable environmental and societal improvement was a component of localised GHG management policies, then their acceptance and uptake by civil society would be eased and enhanced. The study shows that many less than ideal conditions and norms have developed within different societies and that a focal point is widely recognised as being useful or even necessary to help identify and rectify such problems. At both local and global levels, because of its direct association with Earth System impacts and the links to unsustainable forms of human behaviour, GHG management could be such a focal point if it is appropriately used.
Keyword anthropogenic climate change
sustainable development,
science policy
greenhouse gas management
Additional Notes 13 x Colour, pages: 55, 60, 74, 90, 95, 148, 151, 231, 253, 259, 260, 275, 306 2 x Landscape, pages 126, 131

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Created: Tue, 15 Nov 2011, 09:23:01 EST by Mr Graham Farebrother on behalf of Library - Information Access Service