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Climate Risk, Governance and Conflicting Temporalities: A Comparative Study of Australia, China and the UK


Thursday 3rd December 2015 – 16:00 to 17:00 hrs

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Catherine Wong
Catherine Wong


Abstract: While consensus on the science of anthropogenic climate change is largely well established, how best to deal with it is still hotly contested. Different countries face varied climate risks and, therefore, have different priorities. But there are also significant common major risks that have prompted key polluting countries to pursue similar policy and market instruments. This simultaneous divergence and convergence of interests and the effects on climate policy is not well understood in the current literature. This is especially so in policy design, planning and forecasting activities. The trend towards blurring roles between government and market actors and activities, and their consequences are also under studied. The speaker presents some initial findings from a comparative study of Australia, China and the UK, drawing on new data collected from interviews with public and private sector institutional elites in the three countries. Using a combination of the sociology time and actor-network analysis, the study traces the rationalities behind policy preferences in the three countries. It argues that while the three countries share common risk priorities and even agree on the types of market and non-market instruments needed, these policy mechanisms take very different forms and are headed towards different, and possibly opposing futures. It also explores what the varied policy preferences reveal about underlying assumptions about the temporal dimensions of climate change. Lastly, it addresses the implications of these findings for climate governance and the coordination of regional/global market systems, standards and regulation. The presentation concludes with some future policy scenarios.

Bio: Catherine is a Senior Research Officer at The Cairns Institute. She specialises in risk governance across a range of public policy fields particularly climate change (adaptation and mitigation), urban planning, energy security and social resilience. She did her PhD at the Australian National University, School of Sociology, on nuclear energy in India after the Fukushima disaster, focusing on elite risk perception, risk governance and socio-ecological and technological transformations. Her current research expands into systemic risk analysis and governance in the areas of climate change policy; energy transitions; future scenario planning; and social impact assessment. She is particularly interested in multi-disciplinary approaches to co-management of risks, multi-stakeholder engagement and risk-resilience indicators.

Prior to academia, Catherine was a journalist for The Business Times and The Straits Times in Singapore and wrote on the energy, environment and world politics beat. She also spent over a year in India working for the Global Development Network, a former subsidiary of the World Bank in New Delhi, and was at Hewlett Packard in Ireland as a business planning analyst prior to that.


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