Think globally, act locally : policy implications of the climate change regime

White, Richard ; Muller, Kobus (2009-05)


Climate change with its potential to disrupt all facets of life on earth is arguably the greatest environmental threat that humankind has faced to date. The debates on the best methods and means of dealing with the threat are occupying the agendas of diverse actors in the international, national and local arenas. In an effort to address the effects of climate change, governments and policy-makers attempt to translate the results of this vibrant debate into meaningful policy at home. This article attempts to describe this journey from debate through policy into action, taking the complexities of policy environment into account. At the outset the largely divided international climate change regime endorses the contradictory stance of energy-intensive developing nations such as South Africa and inhibits the fostering of a meaningful climate change policy environment at a national level. The policy context with regard to climate change in South Africa is analysed and the salient causes of the troubled policy environment, aside from those commonly associated with developing nations, are identified as largely administrative. Finally, the policy environment in South Africa is examined at local level and, while local governments enjoy more autonomy under the new dispensation, the administrative fragmentation experienced at a national level permeates down to the local sphere, with the EThekwini Municipality serving as a case in point.

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