There is a need to move away from climate naivety by adopting a more realistic approach when it comes to climate protection.
If policymakers pledge climate protection on the international stage, they have little incentive to implement concrete and costly measures at the national level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
International climate treaties, such as the Paris Agreement, are concluded by an impressive number of countries. However, among them, many have governments that put little value on democracy, the rule of law, or human rights within their borders. Some even treat their own citizens like subjects, they eliminate critical media professionals; imprison entire ethnic groups; or even wage wars of aggression against their neighbours. The belief that precisely these governments that have signed climate treaties but exploit their own citizens would engage in climate protection for the good of the earth’s future citizens is the foundation of climate naivety of the second degree. One might argue that it would already be a partial success if political leaders of autocratic countries were a little more oriented towards the welfare of future global citizens. However, it seems more likely that these leaders at least partly cover up their oppressive and exploitative tendencies towards their own citizens by their signatures on climate treaties. Apart from that, signing a treaty could increase their export opportunities for so-called “green” products, be it solar panels, batteries, or natural gas, which are considered by the European Union as green transition technologies.
If a large part of the world does not participate in climate protection, then national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions lead to virtually no benefits but substantial costs only.
To safeguard the interests of the citizens of free, democratic countries, it would be necessary to move away from climate naivety toward more realism in climate protection. Adaptation to the expected global warming and its accompanying dangers should become more important. In contrast to climate protection as a global public good, the benefits of climate adaptation at the national, local, and even individual levels can be realised independently of what other countries are doing. Storm damage can be reduced by adequate construction, dikes can be made to protect against higher sea levels, more robust tree species can be planted to preserve forests, and eco-friendly air conditioning systems can help protect against heat. Because citizens benefit directly from adaptation, they are willing to contribute to financing it. This incentivises companies to quickly develop low-cost adaptation technologies. Good national governance can help to reduce the costs of adaptation. Adapting to climate change corresponds to an investment in resilience. Those who have adapted have less to fear from climate change. Those who have less to fear can behave differently on the global stage. If those well-governed and adapted countries would nevertheless be willing to engage in efficient climate protection out of altruistic motives, then their behaviour should not be seen as climate naive.
Storm damage can be reduced by adequate construction, dikes can be made to protect against higher sea levels, more robust tree species can be planted to preserve forests, and eco-friendly air conditioning systems can help protect against heat.
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Prof. Dr. David Stadelmann studied Economics (MA/BA) as well as Mathematics (MSc/BSc) at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) where he received his PhD in 2010 ...Read More +
Marco Frank is a research assistant and PhD student in economics at the University of Bayreuth (Germany). His research focuses on distributional consequences of political ...Read More +