Climate Change Discourse Networks in the North and South: Comparing the US, Canada, Brazil and India

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Anna KUKKONEN, University of Helsinki, Finland
Pradip SWARNAKAR, ABV-Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, India
The global politics of climate change is characterized by disagreements over national emission targets and burden sharing particularly between the industrialized countries in the North and the emerging economies in the South. In this paper, our aim is to analyze these disagreements by applying discourse network analysis to over 4000 statements from the three prominent newspapers in each country. We have constructed coalitions of organizations that are engaged in the climate debate in the US, Canada, Brazil and India. We analyze the networks with the Advocacy Coalition Framework to identify how actors from various levels and sectors cluster into political coalitions by supporting or rejecting specific policy beliefs about climate change, and how these constellations vary between the countries. We find that in the North, the core beliefs that invoke the most disagreement deal with the role of climate science and the compatibility of environmental and economic values, while coalitions tend to converge in their beliefs concerning the green growth paradigm. In the South, however, there is no clear pattern of competing coalitions but actors converge on the idea of shared but differentiated responsibility and the environmental impacts of climate change. In addition, there is no explicit anti-mitigation coalition in Brazil and India whereas in both the US and Canada there is a coalition, although a minority one, of actors who oppose ambitious climate legislation. However, a common feature of all countries’ discourse networks is that international actors and ENGO’s are central to coalitions that advocate environmental values and push for stronger climate commitments, while actors from the national level often take more conservative positions and, in the North, are more linked to skeptical actors.