Paper: Climate Change Benchmarking – constructing a sustainable future?

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Paper: Climate Change Benchmarking – constructing a sustainable future?

Climate Change Benchmarking: constructing a sustainable future?

By: Caroline Kuzemko

Published in: Review of International Studies, 41, pp 969-992 doi:10.1017/S0260210515000418

Available online: 25 November 2015

This article analyses discourses on climate change and mitigation through the deconstruction of European Union (EU) rhetoric and practices on climate benchmarking. It critically examines the motivations behind climate benchmarking, the methods used to construct international benchmarks, and the reasons for variety in domestic compliance. Germany and the United Kingdom are analysed as cases where domestic politics drive very different reactions to the practice of climate mitigation, differences that have been largely hidden by the type of quantification that EU benchmarking involves. Through an exploration of the methods used to formulate climate benchmarks, the article demonstrates that these commitments have privileged certain responses over others, and thus helped to paint a picture of EU benchmarks as ‘reformist’ but not ‘radical’. EU climate benchmarks often end up concealing more than they reveal, making it difficult to fully engage with the scale and complexity of the far-reaching domestic changes that are required in order to comply with agreed international benchmarks. The deficiencies of benchmarks as a mechanism for driving long-term sustainable change, and importantly discouraging harmful policies, may ultimately undermine their credibility as a means for governing climate change at a distance in the EU.
The full paper can be accessed via: The Review for International Studies 

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