A multi-level analysis of the role of instrumentalist factors and worldviews in shaping CO2 emissions trends

Clulow, Zeynep Deborah (2017) A multi-level analysis of the role of instrumentalist factors and worldviews in shaping CO2 emissions trends. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the factors behind national CO2 emissions trends. It highlights four instrumental – economic, social, political and environmental - explanations that scholars have posited to account for emissions behaviour and subsequently demonstrates that the artificial segregation of these approaches in the literature poses a major problem for the field. Since all of these factors matter some of the time, it argues that the research program needs to identify when each factor matters more than others and why. This thesis proposes that ideas play a key role in bringing instrumental factors to bare on climate policy. Fusing together social constructivism and the concepts of worldviews and problem representations from cognitive psychology, it proposes that instrumental factors will only have their alleged effects on emissions when a country, or the policymakers who act on its behalf, believes that the factor is of importance to world politics more broadly. Drawing on three of the leading schools of international thought, it proposes three ideal worldviews and problem representations, each of which envisages a different set of instrumentalist drivers and strategic response to climate change. Specifically, the neo-realist worldview upholds that emissions policy should maximise the gains of the state relative to others. The neo-liberal worldview, on the other hand, suggests that a state should design climate policy to minimise the domestic cost-benefit ratio of emissions behaviour. Painting a very different picture, the structuralist worldview prescribes that emissions policy should serve a state’s transnational class interests.

The thesis tests these explanatory approaches by conducting a large-N study of 3,381 country-years, spanning eight supranational regions and 147 countries from 1990 to 2012. It builds a three-level model that accounts for (country and regional) clustering in emissions behaviour, thus reducing the potential for type I errors. The findings confirm that instrumental factors are indeed significant drivers of emissions trends. However, unlike previous quantitative work in the field, the results of the multilevel analyses suggest that most of these factors have heterogeneous effects between countries. The findings also suggest that worldviews play a critical role in determining what these effects are in two of the cases examined in the thesis: (i) democratization has a positive effect on emissions reduction in countries that subscribe to the neo-liberal worldview while (unexpectedly) inhibiting emissions reduction in countries that do not and (ii) a structuralist mind-set makes countries prioritise economic growth over a clean climate, thereby inhibiting emissions reduction.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Humphrey, Mathew
Rendall, Matthew
Keywords: climate change; carbon emissions trends; international theory; constructivism; worldviews; multilevel model
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
J Political science > JA Political science (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Politics and International Relations
Item ID: 37897
Depositing User: Clulow, Zeynep
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 21:41
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/37897

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