The environmentalist Sydney-(out)sider
Alister Doyle writes in his 13 March 2017 article that since the December 2015 Paris Agreement, global cities have taken the initiative when it comes to climate change, often encroaching on their own national policies. His piece, which was featured as one of Reuters Politics Special Reports, cites many local executives as well as a couple climate researchers to determine the efforts made to keep carbon emissions down around the globe. With car-free zones, local solar energy grids, and green buses and trains, urban centers, which in total house half of the world’s population, are asserting their dominance for a cleaner, greener world.
With a very pro-city and anti-governement undertone, Doyle points out that although the Paris accord “imposes no obligations on cities, regions or companies to define goals,”Over 2,500 cities have issued plans to cut carbon emissions to the United Nations since late 2014, setting an example to almost 200 nations that reached a Paris Agreement in December 2015 to fight global warming.” He attributes the trend to “affluent” cities with “environmentally-conscious voters” and uses cities like Oslo, Sydney, New York, and Copenhagen as validation.
Michelle mentioned in class, that his case studies appeared to be very western in nature, and that his findings could possibly be false, as he paints a picture where only western developed cities are climate change saviors. Doyle does, however mention that, “Rich cities…are more able to cut emissions to meet the demands of affluent…voters than fast-expanding cities such as Bangkok, Nairobi or Buenos Aires.” But, his lack of exploration of the efforts made by non-western cities in the fight against climate change, does leave one questioning his conclusions.
Doyle explores the tensions between city and state, using Oslo’s battle between its left-wing municipal government and Norway’s right-wing federal government “to more than halve the capital’s greenhouse gas emissions within four years to about 600,000 tonnes, one of the most radical carbon reduction intentions in the world,” as just one example. He ends his article on the “Trump Factor,” stating that since the current US President’s election, the US and its cities like Austin and New York are in a limbo over emission goals. What they will be able to achieve is detrimentally linked to the power of Trump’s administration. I think it’s safe to say that since the rightward shift of many national governments over the past couple of years, the battle against climate change has become even more of a polarizing war. And whilst cities may have many initiatives in mind, fighting against their own governments to get things done is more hindering than helpful to the cause.
Where Doyle does have a range of reliable sources in his article, it was brought up in class that it is unclear as to whether or not he interviewed his sources himself. Doyle fails to mention if he got direct quotes from sources like Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, or was simply quoting her and the others from elsewhere.
Overall Alister Doyle presents a decent, informative article on the progress since the Paris accord. Enlightening in some aspects, and doubtful in others, Doyle presses us to question how real our carbon emission goals are.