FDSD’s work on the future of democracy in the face of climate change is grounded in two hypotheses:
- First, that climate change will impact on democracy, when democracy is understood as a political system (see Paper Two). Democracy itself could even be threatened by climate disruption and related emergencies in some parts of the world if suitable mitigation and adaptation strategies are not adopted as soon as possible (as discussed later in this paper).
- Second, that the system of democracy applied within a nation or its regions affects climate change because the system of democracy is itself connected to the possibility of the emergence of effective responses to climate change. Without innovations and evolution in democratic governance, democracies will not find it easy or even possible to meet the particular challenges posed by climate change. By way of evidence, we might point to:
failure of the United States to muster support in Congress for the Kyoto Protocol or for meaningful action at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit;
mobilisation of sceptics and ‘deniers’ against climate action, with support from major political parties and lobbies, for example in the USA, Canada and Australia; or
the fact that the UK’s Climate Act with its legally binding targets remains unique in the world, and is under continual attack.