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  • 4 October 2017, 15:00-16:15

    American exceptionalism, great power responsibility and global sustainability

    Sustainability Science Centre is proud to present a sustainability lecture on 4 October 2017, with Robert Falkner, editor of The Handbook of Global Climate and Environment Policy and Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

    President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord brings into sharp relief the difficulty of establishing global sustainability politics in an international system characterized by profound power asymmetry. The Paris Agreement is based on a conception of global governance in which all major powers have come to accept a special responsibility to contribute towards global climate protection.

    Despite this strengthening of the norm of global environmental stewardship, the US has repeatedly repudiated multilateral environmental agreements and threatens again to walk away from its environmental responsibility as the world’s most powerful nation and major greenhouse gas emitter. This lecture explores the legacy of American exceptionalism in global environmental governance and the threat it poses to the Paris Agreement and global sustainability politics more generally. It asks whether the principle of great power responsibility is still a meaningful concept in thinking about international order, and what the world can do to strengthen America’s commitment to global environmental stewardship.

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