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Political ecology of Costa Rica’s climate policy: contextualizing climate governance


Climate change is a global problem with distinct local impacts that challenge the application of universal policy mechanisms. Climate governance is the broad multiscalar, mixed method approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It is founded on neoliberal market logics that commodify carbon, while also attempting to be socially and environmentally sustainable. This research focuses on hydroelectricity, a climate governance mechanism that is simultaneously promoted as a solution to climate change and critiqued for its negative social and environmental impacts. This paradox is explored by assessing the assemblage of interactions occurring within Costa Rica, a place known for their sustainable development and renewable energy production. Local indigenous communities, state, and non-state actors voice a diverse array of perspectives regarding construction of the Diquís hydroelectric project, which the state promotes as a key component of its climate plan. To some indigenous peoples, the project is a threat to their landscapes, livelihoods, and cultures; to others, its delay results in missed economic opportunities. In this paper, I utilize political ecology to explore these diverse perspectives in order to contextualize the local dynamics of global climate governance, providing insights for both climate policy in Costa Rica and climate governance mechanisms broadly.

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Correspondence to Emily Benton Hite.

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Hite, E.B. Political ecology of Costa Rica’s climate policy: contextualizing climate governance. J Environ Stud Sci 8, 469–476 (2018).

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  • Indigenous resistance movements
  • Climate policy
  • Hydroelectricity
  • Political ecology