No Decarbonization without Democratization: To Save the Climate, Open Democracy


Hélène Landemore

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Democracy in a Hotter Time: Climate Change and Democratic Transformation Edited by: David W. Orr ISBN (electronic): 9780262376464 Publisher: The MIT Press Published: 2023
The planet is burning. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warnings about the consequences of rising temperatures are becoming increasingly dire, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has set off a race in Europe and elsewhere to achieve energy independence through rapid transformations of the economy. With decarbonization becoming such an urgent priority, it is tempting to consider political shortcuts. Why not try enlightened despotism or a technocracy of experts, picking the best climate scientists and engineers and empowering them to make the decisions for us? Why not embrace the Chinese method of forcing through sweeping changes and swatting away any misguided resistance from below? But in truth, there can be no decarbonization without democratization. Addressing climate change requires fighting off the technocratic temptation and instead deepening democratic decision-making at all levels—local, national, and global. It also requires extending democracy to the economic sphere, specifically to firms and organizations where climate-affecting decisions are made. The point is to include more people, interests, and ways of thinking in the relevant law and policy processes as well as in firm- and industry-level business decisions that affect the production of greenhouse gases. And, because of the urgency of climate change, democratization along those two dimensions—deepening and extending—must therefore happen quickly and decisively
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