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Environmental governance : a deliberative approach Fairbairn, Cole

Abstract

Recent trends in environmental governance have seen a shift in policymaking and regulating that are beginning to question the efficacy of democratic systems, possibly in favor of corporate environmentalism and authoritarian regimes. This line of questioning has left many to wonder where the role of democratic national governments now lies when it comes to climate change governance norms and policy innovations. Using three case studies of successful deliberative mini publics, this paper argues that when democratic institutions use deliberative mechanisms at local, regional, and national levels, effective governance can be achieved, and that these achievements reflect legitimate collective action. Yet, because democracies have the unique ability to create spaces of free expression and loyal oppositions, a deliberative system model can be opened in a way that allows radical policy shifts which may not be achieved otherwise. Through various mechanisms of dissent ranging from boycotts to civil disobedience, the views and insights brought by climate activists challenge existing structural inequalities in governance systems and increases broader awareness of complex interconnected issues ingrained in climate change policymaking. Thus, when incorporated into a deliberative systems model, activists and dissenters work to strengthen the deliberative quality and legitimacy of deliberative institutions.

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