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  • Author: Melissa Tier
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
  • Institution: School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Managing and adapting to flood risk is an increasing concern of policymakers globally, as anthropogenic climate change contributes to sea level rise and the rising intensity and frequency of coastal storms. Moreover, it is critically important that policymakers design and implement equitable adaptation processes that are based in environmental justice principles. In the United States, the primary instrument for flood risk management is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)—but the program already suffers from debt, low participation rates, outdated flood risk assessments, and myriad other structural issues. By integrating several models of policy development, this analysis offers explanations for why NFIP reform attempts of the past decade have repeatedly failed and offers the present moment (in the early months of the Biden Administration and as the pandemic crisis continues) as a potential policy window for realigning reform efforts. Achieving true NFIP reform remains crucial to ensuring that all coastal residents have affordable options for low-risk housing, despite the expected growth in high-risk flood zones.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Reform, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Lauren Kathryn Johnson
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
  • Institution: School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: As countries across the world intensify their commitments to mitigating the worst effects of climate change, activists, scholars, and regular citizens are demanding more from this transition than the mere substitution of fossil fuels with low-carbon forms of energy. Increasingly, many call for an energy system that better distributes the benefits that energy provides and more fairly spreads the costs that its production and use creates. However, it is not only those seeking to right past inequities that call for a just transition: justice is a rhetorical device that opponents of the clean energy transition can use to slow its progress. This paper will engage with the conflicting roles that various actors’ sense of justice plays in Canada’s transition to a decarbonized economy. First, it will consider how opposition to Canada’s carbon price was fueled by a sentiment that it would unjustly destroy an industry that many Canadians depend on for employment. The following section explores how the strategic use of energy democracy, or the involvement of people in the decision-making and ownership of clean energy infrastructure, could build political will for the clean energy transition across Canada. This paper ultimately argues that by designing this transition so that it directly benefits as many Canadians as possible, and ensuring that every citizen understands those benefits, Canadian decision-makers can fortify climate policies to withstand false claims and perceptions of injustice.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Economic Policy, Justice
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America
  • Author: Ryan Warsing
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
  • Institution: School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Despite growing consensus that climate change is real, manmade, and pernicious, the U.S. Congress has failed to update old laws – to say nothing of passing new ones – that might mitigate the crisis. State governments have attempted to fill the void, with California setting de facto national policy using powers delegated under the 1970 Clean Air Act (CAA). The Trump administration’s 2019 bid to revoke these powers rejects the process of “iterative federalism” and leads one to believe Trump’s agenda is both vindictive in nature and impervious to broad support for environmental regulation. Yet this support (even in electorally pivotal states like Pennsylvania) proves a weak motivating factor next to the needs of vulnerable constituencies, notably autoworkers. Trump’s agenda is rationally set by his need to attract support in states like Michigan where votes are precious and regulatory exposure is high. Long a means for the federal government to enjoy environmental progress at a safe political distance, the “California carve-out” seems to have exhausted its utility with the Trump administration, which deems all environmental regulation anathema to growth and the happiness of its base. Trump’s rationale is best understood using Conditional Pandering Theory (CPT), which predicts that presidents with middling approval numbers are apt to be led by the public as Election Day draws near and policy outcomes can be delayed. In the case of emissions, policy outcomes are immaterial so long as targeted marginal voters deliver the president a second term.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Legislation, Pollution, Domestic Policy, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America