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Climate Change and the Language of Human Security Des Gasper International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam DSA Conference, London,

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Presentation on theme: "Climate Change and the Language of Human Security Des Gasper International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam DSA Conference, London,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Climate Change and the Language of Human Security Des Gasper International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam DSA Conference, London, 5 Nov. 2010

2 2 Contents: 1. The (absence of) ethics of global environmental change … 2. The insufficiency of conventional economic languages Stiglitz – incentives matter Stern 2007 - public goods, market failure, & econ. cost-benefit analysis Stern 2010 – economics as handmaiden: cost-effectiveness analysis … But how to motivate action ? 3. Human security thinking Emergence of a concept of human security A discourse not just a concept Roles of human security discourse 4. One language for transition ? Requisites for transition Human security thinking and the logos & pathos of global public goods Human security thinking and the narrative imagination Human security discourse and its partner languages

3 3 Degrees (phases?) of environmental concern 1. Phase of autism; mother (Earth) will tidy up after the compulsive self-absorbed child (the economy). 2. Attempts to use market-derived economics reasoning to assess ethical and policy implications of environmental change. Inequitable; too impersonal to motivate basic rethinking; & little attention to human meaning of market failures, including resulting anger, desperation & conflict. 3. Economic analysis used to identify ways for preserving the environment efficiently, not for trading environmental values against (other) monetized values. Not inequitable but not sufficient. Preservation of public goods requires a sense of public spirit; otherwise free- riding by self-interested participants can destroy a system. 4. Increased global human solidarity, and sense of stewardship towards Nature.

4 4 Required value transitions The Earth Charter and the SEI Great Transition project (Raskin et al. 2002; Raskin 2006) identify three required value shifts: 1. from a preoccupation with the acquisition and consumption of commodities to a broader and deeper picture of what gives quality of life; 2. from an overwhelming individualism to a human solidarity, based indeed on respect for individuals; 3. from an attitude of mastery and domination of nature to an attitude of stewardship for Mother Earth.

5 5 More on solidarity (& stewardship, & well-being): standpoint choices for how we see ourselves The motivation required for serious attention to ethics of climate change depends on: How far do we see shared interests between people, thanks to a perception of interdependence, so that appeals to self-interest are also appeals to mutual interest? How far do we value other peoples interests, so that appeals to sympathy can be influential due to interconnections in emotion? Identity: How far do we see ourselves and others as members of a common humanity? (& biosphere)

6 6 Every transition in values and behaviour needs a language or languages of transition:- - that make vivid and meaningful what is at stake, that unite and motivate groups committed to change, and that persuade enough of those other groups who could otherwise block change. - frameworks of thought that stimulate and channel attention, interest & passionate energies amongst leaders, opinion formers and wider publics. We see an intuitive untheorised recognition of this in recent work by two former Chief Economists of the World BankStiglitz and Sternbut in their formal analyses they remain limited to economics.

7 7 Stiglitz: Making Globalization Work 2007 – esp. chapter on climate change The lesson here, as in much of the rest of this book, is simple: incentives matter (p.210) & can be reshaped Incentives = carrots and sticks (p.176), not also… But: reshaped by whom? quis custodiet ipsos custodes? how to motivate political morality Many of Stiglitzs proposals assume and/or require feelings of global moral community He gradually starts to use we language. His belated final-page appeal: the Declaration of Independence does not say all Americans are created equal, but all men are created equal (p.292)

8 8 Insufficiency of the main current languages If we look at the value shifts identified as necessary, we see that the languages of economics, of human rights, and of capability / development as freedom, while important, are not sufficient. By themselves they are too potentially individualistic and compatible with visions of self-fulfilment through unlimited consumption and exploitation of nature. There are limitations and contradictions of seeking to respond to climate change solely by using adapted versions of forms of thinking that have fuelled it: commodity orientation, self-interest, instrumentalism. Enlightened self-interest arguments wont suffice.

9 9 Value-added by human security discourse in relation to human rights & human devt languages A stronger concern with felt experience than in much of the legal-led work on human rights and economics-led work on human development increases explanatory force and motivating power. To more individualistic human rights thinking it adds an emphasis on the human species as a whole, and on our shared security, insecurity and vulnerability.

10 10 2: The languages of economics 2a – Public goods: Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen (Stern 2007) The language of public goods/public bads and market failures is familiar, and useful in some aspects of understanding, but: Is insufficient: public goods provision cannot be merely a matter of calculation of self-interest, for free-riding by self-interested participants can destroy a system. Only shared norms and institutions (including regulatory activities) can bring security Is not based on understanding of public, only on ideas about what these goods are not (pgs = goods for which consumption is non-rivalrous and/or non-excludable) Is too impersonal to motivate basic rethinking and societal reorientation. [Let alone 2b: the language of cost-benefit analysis.]

11 11 2c – Cost-effectiveness economics: Stern 2010s Blueprint to Save the World More than a simplified version of his 2007 Review. Now, in place of ECBA, a program to try to respect a ceiling of 500 ppm CO 2 -equivt. [not the 2007 figure of 550 (we are already near 450)]and even that wont prevent >2 deg. temp. rise Implicitly, we have to work far outside ECBA zone of relevance; we need value-guidelines from outside economics. Stern adopts 500 ppm not on the basis of economic calculation but from a mix of environmental, political and human rights estimations; then takes 500 ppm as a parameter, and uses cost-effectiveness analysis to look for methods (including market-based) to fulfil it.

12 12 But: what will motivate action? Stiglitz, until his final page, and the 2007 Stern Review, presume a wise and benevolent central disposer, a God-like Benthamite authority, who will receive and implement their technical advice; rather than a real modern polity. Record of past two generations is of inertia. Investment worldwide in energy research halved in the 1980s & 90s, to 6% of value of energy subsidies (Stern 2010: 113). Inaction rules when immediate economic & political pressure are absent Giddens paradox: people will only act when serious damage is undeniable & it is too late.

13 13 Motivation is more than incentives Sterns chapter on Policies to reduce emissions ends with mention of institutions and action coalitions to generate ideas and commitment in national discussion fora and to maintain pressure on governments for follow- up. A further system of sticks and carrots can be then set up to induce action on commitments made in such fora Yet, who will motivate the motivators?

14 14 Beyond carrots & sticks lie sermons & dialogues: - education, information-sharing, promotion of new and old ideals and culture-change Following Stern 2010s chs. 6 & 8 – the policy blueprint chapters – come chs. 7, 9 & 10 on how to motivate action E.g., by the power of example (ch.7), a spirit of collaboration, commitment and communication = Implicit shift of Sterns model of persons and public action Whereas in the Stern Review, attitude change received just three pages out of 700, in the new book after the details of carbon trading Stern (perhaps incongruously, but revealingly) feels he must invoke the spirit of Gandhi and Mandela (2010:182-3)!

15 15 Transition to global public good requires languages of transition, not only a language of carrots/sticks for selfish individuals Self-interest(edness) is inadequate to defend self- interest(s), because: 1. besides the high transaction costs of preparing collective action in such a situation, 2. self-interest is typically myopic; and 3. behaviour is constrained by images of identity & normality, & by felt needs to belong. In contrast, public-spirit / concern for others motivates attention to others 1. increases awareness of relevant connections, and 2. modifies notions of self and we; and 3. concern for other people affects their reactions.

16 16 3: The human security frame – its familiar foreground features 1. a focus on the security of human individuals not only on generalized categories such as national income or averages 2. Security of basic-needs life-areas basic rights claims 3. wider scope: (a) of life-areas considered under security, and (b) in attention to contributory factors, and hence (c) to possible countermeasures to insecurity. See the formulation of HS in 2009 Arab HDR.

17 17 …. and implied background features (see OBrien et al, Ethics, Climate Change & HS (CUP 2010) Sympathy, a motivating concern of joined-up feeling, partnered by Joined-up thinking: wide-ranging attention to human experience & transgressive / trans- disciplinary interconnections. Awareness of fragility and vulnerability; possible tipping-points and breaking-points. Disputes over defining the HS concept (w.r.t. what range of life-areas should be included) become (intellectually) of minor importance given these background ideas.

18 18 HS discourses value-focus on priority areas, combined with a wide explanatory focus … … help it to go deeper, to explore more about what is distinctive and of priority in human : we are encumbered subjects, each with a body, gender, emotions, identity, and a life- cycle how people seek/gain/lose security of various sorts, physical, economic, and psychological the priority capacities and vulnerabilities that form the grounds for basic rights.

19 19 4: Value-added by HS discourse relative to current mainstream policy languages The transitions in human societies to move to sustainable pathways require languages for transition, not only cost-benefit calculations, blueprints, plans for incentives, or even talk of respecting and enhancing human rights and reasoned freedoms. While all are relevant in varying degrees, none of these ways of talking and thinking contains an adequate vision of humanity, humanity on Earth, as pervasively interconnected and mutually constitutive, causally, semiotically and affectively.

20 20 HS discourse promotes two essential qualities 1. the perception of an intensively interconnected global ecosystem which we jointly live in and share; 2. the capacity of narrative imagination. Compared to the other languages mentioned here, it adds therefore in terms of both logos and pathos to understanding and preserving global public goods It favours the fundamental changes of perspective that are needed in how people perceive shared interests and shared humanity.

21 21 It promotes the narrative imagination – the ability to think what it might be like to be in the shoes of a person different from oneself (and of oneself as different) Human security thinking involves attention to a diverse, situation-specific set of interacting threats and how they affect the lives of ordinary individuals, especially the most vulnerable. The range of factors and of their interconnections means that the type of assertive story-telling found in conventional economics – Íf we do X then Y will follow – is unattainable. Instead a more self-aware storytelling: Heres what might result from some current factors and their possible linkages; Lets consider another possible future and what might lead to it. Formalized in a scenarios approach.

22 22 We see connections & possibilities that are normally screened out by conventional mental frames, routines & authority structures The Stern Report for example contains separate chapters on economic costs of climate change in rich countries and in poor countries, each based on an accumulation across different sectors of quantitative projections concerning impacts. This approach underweights 1. the non-quantified effects such as political instability, 2. the interactions between sectors, such as the impacts of political instability, especially when that exceeds routine minor variation, and 3. the impacts on rich countries of instability in poor countries, again especially when outside the range that can be projected by quantitative analysis of past variation.

23 23 Value-added, relative to HR & HD languages A human security perspective helps to: - better ground the human rights and human development approaches in attention to the nature of being and wellbeing, and to focus them on priorities; - add a synthesizing approach in explanation and diagnosis; - convey interdependence more than does human rights language, and a realization of dangers, vulnerability, and fragility; and - connect to human subjectivity, which increases its explanatory force and motivating potential.

24 24 Conclusion / hunch The emphases that we saw as required for response to climate chaos: prudence and enlightened self-interest; ecological interconnection that demands careful stewardship human solidarity, stability and prioritization; and sources of richer quality of life, felt security and fulfilment; are more fully present in human security thinking, than in the other languages now relied on by international organizations. But the languages are not mutually exclusive, and partly fit different policy levels and occasions.

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