John Dewey And The European Commission: Climate Policy Based On Public Opinion

Anuschka Jil Reekers

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


Climate change is more and more viewed and defined as an existential threat for the whole world population (European Commission, 2019a; Gleick, 2010; Richards et al., 2021). It can be argued that the involvement of the public should be an essential component of climate policy – on international and national level – to enable a response that can unite the strength of all humanity (Perlaviciute & Squintani, 2020). The European Union is taking over a leadership role in international climate policy, through its role as a mediator and negotiator, as well as through leading by example based on its internal climate policy (Vogler, 2017). However, I argue that it fails to involve the public and conduct a climate policy that is based on public opinion. For this purpose, I investigate the European Commission – as the most important agenda-setter – and its initiatives of deliberative democratic involvement of the citizens. To understand why the Commission fails to base its policy on public opinion, I consider John Dewey’s theory of democracy. More precisely, I work with his account of The Public and Its Problems, which outlines the challenge of a formation and expression of public opinion in democratic societies. Dewey identifies the essential problem of why a public is unable to guide the government and judge its policymaking in its inability to identify and form itself. Based on his thoughts the foundation for the relevant public(s) in the light of European climate policy are outlined and through this an identification of the two publics of the world population and the EU citizens can be made. The challenge of the formation of these publics is discussed with the account of bourgeois democracy – uncovering an elite and exclusive policymaking within the Commission. Finally, the Deweyan conditions of debate and discussion and their way of enabling a formation of public opinion as well as an introduction of institutional change are compared to the present conditions within the European Commission. Based on this, a need for informing the public with scientific information in the field of climate change and a need for an adequate education, that enables them to acquire scientific and democratic habits, can be identified. By this, public opinion could be formed, in the field of climate policy, through a democratically practised deliberation between the citizens, guided by scientific evidence.

UddannelserMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Antal sider85
VejledereCharlotte Cator