*event cancelled* Change Power Generation, You Change Power Relations!

Event Date: 

Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Seminar Room SSMS 3145
  • talk


A presentation of the Orfalea Center Interdisciplinary Research Hub on Climate, Energy, and the Environment

There is broad agreement that climate change is happening and that the lives and livelihood of those on the margins, “the poor” will be worsened, and already are being negatively affected. Contrastingly, certain theoretical predictions suggest that “the pattern of public good provision reveals that when individuals have different preferences (democratic, inter alia) policy outcomes are closer to the preferences of the elites rather than the preferences of the poor majority.” Further modeling indicates that “when politicians belonging to different groups can form coalitions, the wealthy elites’ influence on policy choices is endogenously higher when there is diversity in preferences among the poor.”  

Thus this talk explores ways of knowing about how climate change impacts on the livelihoods and living conditions of the poor must consider and better understand the ways in which elite policy making--characteristic of the UNFCCC process-- enables and entrenches particular elite interests, to the very detriment of the poor and marginalized. Elite quests to price carbon is one example--inasmuch as the poor spend proportionally more of their limited income on energy, hence the regressive nature of carbon pricing schemes--thru either carbon taxing or trading.

The talk details the changing climate policy regime and its continued reliance on failed neoliberalism, by elaborating the latest litany of chimeric combinations and divinations of “new market mechanisms” following on from the complete failure of the carbon trading as a (failed) elite strategy for reducing emissions levels. The discussion plays close attention to the emergence and dominance of the Green Climate Fund and evaluates how much (or little) can be expected of this new window in climate finance.  The discussion concludes by examining a small sampling of the extent of marginalized resistance to elite climate strategy--from particular indigenous resistance to REDD/REDD+, to urban waste-picker dissent against continued carbon trading, inter alia, to suggest roadmaps for climate justice inspired by world’s poor, in and beyond metropoles—variously grouped under the aegis of “climate justice”.

Dr. Michael Dorsey is Interim Program Director of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington D.C.

Dr. Dorsey is a recognized expert on global governance and sustainability. For more than two decades, Dr. Dorsey has provided strategic guidance and advice to governments, foundations, firms and a multitude of others on the interplay of multilateral environment policy, finance and economic development matters. In 1992, he was a member of the U.S. State Department Delegation to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, “The Earth Summit.” From 1994-96 he was a task force member of President William Jefferson Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development. In 1997, in Glasgow, Scotland, Dorsey was bestowed Rotary International’s highest honor, The Paul Harris Medal for Distinguished Service to Humanity. A “Life Member” of the Sierra Club, Michael served seven years as a Director on the Club’s national board.

From 2012-13, Dr. Dorsey was a visiting fellow and professor of environmental studies in Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment. Prior to Wesleyan, he was an assistant professor in Dartmouth College’s Environmental Studies Program and the Director of the College’s Climate Justice Research Project. Dorsey’s articles have appeared in Nature, Carbon Market Europe, Journal of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), the Los Angeles Times and more. Dr. Dorsey’s scholarly work focuses, in part, on how multilateral finance instruments impact climate and biodiversity policy.

Dr. Dorsey is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment (B.S. & Ph.D.), Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (M.F.S.) and The Johns Hopkins University (M.A.). Before joining Dartmouth’s faculty, he held the college’s Thurgood Marshall Fellowship in Environmental Studies and Geography.


cosponsored by the Orfalea Center Interdisciplinary Research Hub on Climate, Energy, and the Environment, the UCSB Critical Issues in America project "Climate Futures: This Changes Everything," and the UCSB Global Climate and Environmental Justice Project