Asset Revaluation and the Existential Politics of Climate Change

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See all articles by Jeff Colgan

Jeff Colgan

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Jessica F. Green

University of Toronto - Department of Political Science

Thomas Hale

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government

Date Written: June 24, 2020

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Colgan, Jeff and Green, Jessica F. and Hale, Thomas, Asset Revaluation and the Existential Politics of Climate Change (June 24, 2020). International Organization, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Jeff Colgan

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs ( email )

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States

Jessica F. Green (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Political Science ( email )

Sidney Smith Hall
100 St George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://green.faculty.politics.utoronto.ca/

Thomas Hale

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government ( email )

10 Merton St
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4JJ
United Kingdom

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