To limit the global warming to a maximum of two degrees above pre-industrial levels, much of the coal and oil reserves on earth must stay in the ground. This requires international agreements to limit nation states' right to extraction. Recently however, prominent leaders such as Trump in the US and Bolsonaro in Brazil have argued that these agreements violate the principle of sovereignty which states that nations have the right to do as they please with their natural resources. So, is the concept of sovereignty incompatible with sustainability and international agreements to limit fossil fuel extraction? Or can you conceive of ways where the international community can limit states' right to extraction that doesn’t violate sovereignty?
Steve Vanderheiden, political scientist at the University of Colorado, recently gave a talk on this at the Institute for Futures Studies, and our communications officer Henric Karlsson met up with him afterwards for a conversation.