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ERE & ISEP Webinar Series Vol. 15: Following the Leaders? How to Restore Progress in Global Climate Governance

December 2, 2020 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


The Paris Agreement is in trouble. In a recent article in Global Environmental Politics, we assess the potential for climate leaders to bring the global climate regime back on track by developing a strategic understanding of followership. In other words, leaders need to know how to encourage other actors to follow them. We develop a typology of follower types—Enthusiasts, Pliables, Reluctants, and Hard Nuts—distinguished based on motivation and capacity. We identify the scope for a participation cascade based on the distribution of follower types. We argue that achieving a participation cascade may be more likely if leaders appreciate three insights from theories of collective action. First, break down the climate mitigation problem into smaller, more manageable challenges, such as sectoral approaches. Second, prioritize major emitters and areas with high mitigation potential and politically feasible action. Finally, emphasize benefits to potential followers. Together, the strategies can help reduce the number of Hard Nut cases by making the cost/benefit calculus more attractive to prospective followers.

Speaker Info

Joshua W. Busby is an Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin. He is a distinguished scholar at the Strauss Center, nonresident fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and a senior research fellow at the Center for Climate & Security. He has published widely on climate change, global health, transnational advocacy movements and U.S. foreign policy for various think tanks and academic journals, including International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Security Studies and Perspectives on Politics. His first book, Moral Movements and Foreign Policy, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. His second book, AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations, with co-author Ethan Kapstein, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013 and won the 2014 Don K. Price Award (the American Political Science Association's award for the best book on science, technology and environmental politics).

Location: Online SAIS Event