PSA Environment at the 2017 Annual Conference

A very big thank-you to all our panellists and members that attended the PSA Annual Conference in Glasgow this month! It was wonderful to see you all and we hope you enjoyed the panels and the conference. We had two panels at the conference this year, both of which were very well attended and received. All panellists are warmly invited to transform their papers into a blog post for our website – please get in touch if you are interested in doing so!

Thanks again to all those who attended and we look forward to seeing you all at the next conference in 2018!

PSA Annual Conference 2017

Only one week until the PSA Annual Conference in Glasgow! We have two panels at the conference this year, both on Wednesday 12th April. All panels and our AGM are being held at the Technology & Innovation Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Theoretical Perspectives on Environmental Governance and Citizen Engagement

Session 7 09:00 – 10:30

Chair: Dr Paul Tobin (University of Manchester)

Room: Conference Room 1

Dr Marit Hammond (Keele University) Social Resilience and Conceptions of Sustainability

Dr James Wong (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) Representing Future Generations in Environmental Democracy

Scott Leatham (De Montfort University) Selling Aspiration, Selling Activism: Green Marketing and the Reduction of Crisis to Commodity

Professor Derek Bell (Newcastle University), Dr Joanne Swaffield (Newcastle University) What Should You or I Do About Climate Change? Exploring Individual Responsibility for Protecting Other People’s Human Rights

Crisis and Uncertainty: Environmental Politics in Interesting Times

Session 8 11:00–12:30

Chair: Shashi van de Graaff (University of Queensland)

Room: Conference Room 1
Dr Paul Tobin (University of Manchester) and Dr Charlotte Burns (University of York) Ever Greener Union, or European Greenwash? Changes to European Union Environmental Narratives since the Eurozone Crisis Began

Professor Elizabeth Bomberg (University of Edinburgh) and Alice Hague (University of Edinburgh) Faith-based Climate Mobilization: Exploring the Role of Spiritual Resources

Esther Lew (University of St Andrews) Global Climate Governance and ‘Ego-Perceptions’ of Responsibility: A Malaysian Perspective

AGM

You are also invited to our AGM on Tuesday 11th April, 12:30 – 13:30, Executive Room B. We strongly encourage all our members to attend!

See you in Glasgow!

Postgraduate Essay Competition

“The relationship between the environment and quality of life”

Win up to £200 and create impact beyond your research!

 The PSA Environment Specialist Group is inviting submissions of 1500-word essays on the theme “The relationship between the environment and quality of life”.

This should be understood as a broad topic – your essay can focus on any area of environmental politics research or personal reflection, whether philosophically, theoretically, empirically, or comparatively inspired; addressing the past, the present, or visions of the future; and relating to any scale and level of abstraction you like.

What can you win?

Winners will earn an immediate cash prize as well as getting a rare opportunity to produce research impact this early in your career: With the help of us from the Environment Group as well as the PSA outreach and early careers teams, you will have the chance to turn your essayideas into professional teaching materials which will be made available through the PSA and used for special taster sessions for A level students interested in studying Politics at University.

Cash prizes:

Winner – £200

Runner-up – £150

Third place – £100

All entrants will also have the chance to publish their essay in a special postgraduate series on the PSA Environment blog.

How to take part?

To take part, you must be a Masters or PhD student in Environmental Politics or a broadly related subject. Submit your essay of a maximum of 1500 words in length to psa.environment [at] gmail.com by 20th November 2016, midnight UK time.

The judging panel consists of co-convenors of the Environment Group Marit Hammond and Shashi van de Graaff as well as PSA Programme Development and Outreach Officer Josh Niderost. Winners will be announced on 1st December and notified by email.

We look forward to your submissions!

Call for Papers – PSA Conference 2017

The PSA Annual Conference 2017 will be taking place in Glasgow, between the 10th and 12th of April 2017, at the Technology & Innovation Centre – University of Strathclyde. You’ll find all available information on the conference on the PSA website. Registration rates will be published at the end of October and registration opens at the end of November.

Our Group will propose up to six panels for inclusion in the conference. Each year, our panels produce fascinating and lively debates, and we’re certain that we’ll see the same again next year.

Panel and Paper Submissions

We welcome your submissions for both panels and individual papers by 5pm on Monday 10th October 2016.

The theme of the conference is ‘Politics in Interesting Times’. We will consider all panels that broadly link with the conference theme, whether through a comparative, policy, global, local, empirical or green theory lens.

If you are submitting a full panel proposal, it will need to include full details of the papers (titles, abstracts, etc) and the authors (names, email addresses, etc.). If you would like to propose a panel but are seeking additional papers to support it, just email us and we can advertise your panel on our group website, or tweet us at @psaenvironment and we’ll advertise your requests.

If you are submitting an individual paper, we can sort these papers into panels after you have submitted your paper.

The PSA is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all areas of its work. As such, all panels submitted to the annual international conference must endeavour to reflect the diversity of the profession and gender balance – we will be taking this into account when accepting proposals.

Postgrads and Undergrads

PSA Postgraduate members who have had a paper proposal accepted for the conference will be eligible to apply for the PSA’s central Postgraduate Access fund for help with conference registration and accommodation costs. Applications will open along with conference registration in late November 2016.

In addition, the Environmental Politics Group will be making a small number of travel bursaries available to its postgraduate members to help facilitate their participation in our panels. To register your interest in applying please send an email to Marit, at m.boeker [at] keele.ac.uk

For the first time a PSA Undergraduate Research Conference will take place on Thursday 13th April. Details will be made available shortly, but any members interested in organising an Environmental Politics presence at the conference are encouraged to get in touch with us.

Looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

PSA Environment Convenor Updates

Sadly we are saying goodbye to Elizabeth Bomberg as convenor of the PSA Environmental Politics group. Elizabeth was heavily instrumental in starting the group up again after several years’ hiatus and has provided fantastic leadership, dynamism and organisation, culminating in the group winning ‘PSA Specialist Group of the Year‘. Elizabeth had the following to say about her stepping-down as convenor:

“This month I’ll be stepping down from my role as co-convenor of the wonderful PSA Environmental Politics Specialist Group. I’ll of course stay very involved in the SG’s activities and events. The Group will continue to be led by a great team including Louise Maythorne (one of the original co-convenors) and Shashi van de Graaff who joined us last term as communications officer, replacing Paul Tobin.  I will be replaced by Marit Hammond from Keele University.  We’re delighted to welcome Marit who will bring to the Group energy, verve and links with other organisations including  the ECPR.   A big thanks to Marit for stepping up to the plate, for Shashi and Louise for carrying on their roles, and to all the members of Group for making it such an exciting, interactive and dynamic group.  See you in Glasgow if not before!”

I am sure all of our members’ will join in our thanks for all she has done and look forward to seeing her at future events!

boekerElizabeth is replaced by Marit Hammond. Marit is a Lecturer in Politics at Keele University. She is also a Co-Investigator at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), a five-year ESRC-funded research project across seven universities and several outside partners led by the University of Surrey. Her research interests include deliberative democracy, culture and democracy, sustainability governance and environmental politics. Recent work has appeared in Contemporary Political Theory, Democratization, Policy Sciences, Representation and Constellations.

Finally, Louise Maythorne, gave birth to a baby girl in July and is taking a back seat from PSA business for a little while, but looks forward to seeing everyone again in Glasgow.

What does Brexit mean for the UK’s environment?

by Dr Charlotte Burns, University of York, Dr Viviane Gravey, and Professor Andy Jordan, University of East Anglia. 

On 24 June the UK awoke to discover that it had voted by a margin of 4% to leave the European Union (EU). Immediate concern will focus upon the stock market and the value of the pound. However, there will also be important implications for the environment, which barely featured at all in the increasingly acrimonious campaign. In the short term the vote will trigger a request from the UK government to invoke Article 50 of the Treaties on European Union (TEU) for the UK to withdraw.  When this will happen is a matter of much debate since Prime Minister Cameron announced his resignation and called for a delay in triggering negotiations until October. When it is eventually triggered, Article 50 allows for a two-year period during which the remaining EU states negotiate an exit settlement (without the UK being present in the room) that they will present to the UK on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. There is scope to extend the withdrawal period, but only by mutual consent.

 Assuming that UK policy-makers are able to agree on the broad direction they wish to take, they will select from two main options: to join the European Economic Area (EEA) like Norway (the ‘Norwegian Option’); or to pursue an independent free trade relationship with the EU and the rest of the world (the so-called ‘Free Trade Option’). It is uncertain which will be pursued – the Leave campaign seems to prefer the latter option, and for many the Norwegian option is unpalatable. But what are the broad implications of each for the environment?

 The Norwegian Option

Under the Norwegian option the vast majority of EU rules and regulations will remain in place and business will continue as usual, with one major difference – the UK will no longer have an active input into shaping EU decisions.  It will become a policy taker rather than a policy maker. The UK government has enjoyed the right to implement higher environmental standards as an EU member and that right will be retained under this option. However, as a policy taker the UK will have no ability to weaken EU rules.  In an area such as REACH, where the UK government has been pressing for less stringent rules, the UK will lose its ability to shape policy.

 Moreover, whilst EU rules and regulations will generally continue to apply in the UK, under this option there are some notable environmental exceptions. The habitats and birds directives, which have been widely recognised as protecting the UK’s most precious flora and fauna are not covered by the EEA agreement and will therefore cease to apply. Key figures from the ‘Brexit’ camp have made clear their commitment to roll back wildlife regulations so it seems likely that the current protections will be weakened. The bathing water directive, which has played a key role in transforming the UK’s reputation from being the ‘dirty man of Europe’, will also cease to apply. Whilst it seems unlikely that the British public will accept a return to sewage-strewn beaches, maintaining high levels of protection may become an issue for future NGO campaigning, especially in view of the UK’s on-going struggle to meet the EU’s ambitious new standards.

On climate change the UK currently participates in effort-sharing to meet the EU’s greenhouse gas goals but again this legislation will no longer apply, raising questions about both the UK’s longer term climate strategy and the ways in which remaining EU states reach their allocated targets. It seems likely that whilst the UK will gain the right to negotiate separately from the EU in climate negotiations that it will nevertheless follow the EU’s lead, as other EEA states currently do.

Some environmentalists will rejoice when they discover that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will no longer apply in this option. On fisheries it is inevitable that the UK will have to negotiate a replacement set of agreements due to overlapping fishing grounds with neighbouring states. Expert analyses suggest that the impact of Brexit will be broadly neutral but there will have to be long and complex negotiations to put in place an alternative set of arrangements (albeit ones that are likely to be very similar to the CFP). As for replacing the CAP, there is the possibility of a good deal of uncertainty about what kind of package will be offered to farmers, and the extent to which existing agri-environmental measures will be retained. The fate of Scotland in particular will continue to be a source of debate, which throws the future shape of UK agricultural policies into even greater doubt.

The Free Trade Option

Under the free trade option, which seems to be the preferred model for the Leave camp, the UK, like many non-EU states, will have to maintain a host of EU standards in order to access the Single European Market, but again as a less influential policy taker.  Whilst as an EU member the UK enjoys the right to implement higher environment standards, under this option there will also be scope for the UK government to implement lower environmental standards. It became clear as the campaign wore on that leading Brexit campaigners do want to scrap key EU regulations.

As under the Norwegian option, the UK will regain the right to negotiate its own international environmental agreements, but yet again it seems likely to follow the EU’s lead, unless, that is, a radical dismantling of national policies is foreseen. Of particular note here is the likely impact of a Brexit upon the EU’s position on climate change – the UK has played a leading role in developing and pushing the climate change agenda at the European level. The leadership role played by the EU is potentially at risk without the UK there to act as a counterweight to the more climate-sceptic governments in Council. Even the chief UN negotiator has suggested that Brexit could put the Paris agreement at risk. There is potentially much work to do then to shore up both domestic and international environmental standards.

Overall the future for UK environmental policy completely outside the EU is potentially quite bleak. Much depends upon: who becomes the leader of the Conservative party; the broad exit strategy the cabinet decides to pursue; the broad negotiating mandate that UK MPs grant the government; and the offer the EU is prepared to make to its erstwhile member.

It is by no means clear that the British public has really thought about Brexit in any great detail. Some voters may be persuaded to leap to the defence of EU policies; some maybe only too willing to dispense with some EU environmental ‘red tape’. It is consequently incumbent upon experts and NGOs to mobilise to identify those environmental rules we should retain and to remind legislators and the British public why the environmental rules we have adopted via the EU are important. That way we may be able to ensure that the environmental gains made since joining the EU are retained.

Changes to the PSA Environment Co-Convenors

After three years of dedicated service, Dr. Paul Tobin is standing down as Co-Convenor of the PSA Environment specialist group. Paul had the following to say about his experience as a PSA Environment Co-Convenor:

Paul

Dr. Paul Tobin stands down after 3 years as PSA Environment Co-Convenor

 “It’s been a real privilege co-convening PSA Environment with Louise and Elizabeth. Two particular highlights were the joint event we ran with PSA French Politics on the Paris climate talks, and co-authoring our Teachers’ Topic Guide with Elizabeth. Elizabeth will be stepping down in August, and I would recommend to anyone considering standing to go for it! It’s been a great experience.”

Replacing Paul as the new Co-Convenor for PSA Environment is Shashi van de Graaff. Shashi is a PhD student from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

DSC_0334 - Copy

Shashi van de Graaff joins the PSA Environment team as Co-Convenor

Shashi recently submitted her PhD thesis for examination and now resides in the UK. Her PhD research investigates historical and contemporary developments in civil nuclear energy programmes, looking specifically at the disjuncture between the rhetoric and reality of the “nuclear renaissance” throughout Western Europe and North America. Shashi is particularly interested in the relationship between energy, the environment and climate change. Prior to her PhD, Shashi worked at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, working on research projects aiming to improve the social performance of the resources industry globally.

A new opportunity to join the PSA Environment team will become available in August, as Elizabeth Bomberg will be standing down. If you are interested in replacing Elizabeth as a PSA Environment Co-Convenor, please email Elizabeth directly (e.bomberg [at] ed.ac.uk).