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The geopolitical rationale for climate action

28th September 2016

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Christian Downie is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2018-2021) in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University.

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By Christian Downie

Ahead of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou this month, the US and China jointly announced that they will ratify the Paris Climate Change Accord agreed to in 2015. But even with ratification the Paris agreement places no legally binding obligation on countries to reduce their emissions.

In this context, the plans by both countries to limit their emissions are essentially voluntary. This may seem counter-intuitive. We have all heard the refrain that the climate is a global public good that requires all nations to act together to protect it. In other words, we should not take unilateral action and incur the costs if other nations do not pull their weight and act too.

However, the United States and China have been acting unilaterally for some time now. In a new paper published in Global Policy, Peter Drahos and I argue that not only is there a strong economic and moral case for such action, but there are good geopolitical reasons too.

Read the entire article in The East Asia Forum.

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