Reassessing Political Possibilities Learning from Climate Change Mitigation and Nuclear Disarmement
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Reassessing Political Possibilities Learning from Climate
Change Mitigation and Nuclear Disarmement
Benoît Pelopidas, Assistant Professor en science politique au CERI
Sanne Verschuren, doctorante en science politique à Brown University, affiliée à l'International Security Programm de la Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
- Guillaume Plantin, département d'économie de Sciences Po, directeur scientifique
- Sébastien Treyer, directeur général de l'IDDRI
Chair : Richard Balme, professeur des universités, CEE.
To address the COVID-19 pandemic, states around the world have adopted a range of unprecedented and far-reaching policy measures, which had for a long time been presented as impossible. In this paper, we therefore argue that they reveal not only present but also past political possibilities and that those have been overlooked or denied by policymakers and scholars alike. We focus on two existential challenges about which pledges for transformative actions have been continuously made throughout the last three to five decades: climate change and nuclear danger. We document the gap between pledges and accomplishments in the two realms and show how the claims of impossibility to act are not convincing. We then engage with the persistent claim that such pledges were made in good faith and offer brief counterfactual experiments as standards to decide the matter. We therefore diagnose a panglossian double failure of IR scholarship, which has contributed to perpetuating the problems while claiming to solve them and without holding policymakers accountable for the foreseeable consequences of their (in)actions. We propose three modifications to avoid repeating such failure of scholarship and conclude with a dual call for political courage and scholarly responsibility.
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