Geography Compass

Climate Change and Geopolitics

By Georgia Davis Conover

In early January, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) released an executive order pledging to continue to take part in the Western Climate Initiative, a multi-state agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  At the time, Governor Brewer went against some members of her own party who were pushing for Arizona to withdraw from the WCI.   Now, a little more than a month later, Governor Brewer is backing out of parts of the agreement.  In an Executive Order, Brewer said while Arizona is not pulling out of the Western Climate Initiative completely, the state will not endorse an emission control plan, out of concern that it will cost Arizona drivers too much money.  Arizona has one of the largest budget deficits in the nation, based on percentage, and some state officials are concerned that adhering to all parts of the Western Climate Initiative could slow an economic recovery.

Geographers involved in the study of climate change recognize that the phenomenon is more than an environmental problem.  Political, economic and cultural processes are involved and will be part of any plan for a solution.  In Geography Compass, Jon Barnett writes about climate change in the context of geopolitics.  He argues that it is not possible to understand key players in global climate change as always making deliberative, rational decisions.  Rather, it should be understood that localized social factors influence decision making at the global scale.

Read the Arizona Republic Article.

Read Barnett, Jon. 2007.  The Geopolitics of Climate Change. Geography Compass 1(6):1361-1375.

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