Asset Revaluation and the Existential Politics of Climate Change
22 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 24, 2020
While scholars have typically modeled climate change as a global collective action challenge, we offer a dynamic theory of climate politics based on the present and future revaluation of assets. Climate politics can be understood as a contest between owners of assets that accelerate climate change, such as fossil fuel plants, and owners of assets vulnerable to climate change, like coastal property. To date, obstruction by “climate-forcing” asset holders has been a large barrier to effective climate policy. But as climate change and decarbonization policies proceed, holders of both climate-forcing and “climate-vulnerable” assets stand to lose some or even all of the value of their assets over time, and with them, the basis of their political power. This dynamic contest between opposing interests is likely to intensify in many sites of political contestation, from the subnational to transnational levels. As it does so, climate politics will become increasingly existential, potentially reshaping political alignments within and across countries. Such shifts may further undermine the LIO: as countries develop pro-climate policies at different speeds and magnitudes, they will have incentives to diverge from existing arrangements over trade and economic integration.
Keywords: Climate Change; existential politics; asset revaluation; liberal international order; trade; decarbonization
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