Georgetown Professor’s Book on Climate Change Chosen as Financial Times Book of the Year

Dr. Anatol Lieven

A major new book on climate change written by Dr. Anatol Lieven, a Professor of Government at QF partner Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), has been chosen as a Financial Times Book of the Year in the environment category. 

In his book, Climate Change and the Nation State: The Realist Case, Dr. Lieven draws on history to argue that only drastic measures enacted by nation states and publicly adopted through an appeal to patriotism have the power to enact the change needed to prevent environmental disaster. Since some damage from climate change is now inevitable, he argues, states need to be strong and to promote social solidarity in order to withstand this challenge. Dr. Lieven therefore strongly advocates the idea of “Green New Deals.”

Financial Times columnist Pilita Clark remarked that Dr. Lieven’s appeal to nationalism was an “unlikely solution,” but one that offered hope. “This international relations writer makes a provocative but refreshing case for blaming blinkered ‘residual elites’ so obsessed with past conflicts they cannot see the great climate challenge ahead.”

Dr. Lieven’s argument that effective climate change policies have to be driven by nation-states has gained traction during the ongoing public-health crisis, where the better health and economic outcomes have been in countries where governments took a strong approach early in the pandemic. Climate change, he argues, would also require major investments in building alternative energy, public transport networks, technological innovation, economic growth, new jobs, and social solidarity.

“While international cooperation is desirable and more of it would be beneficial, the fact remains that in the end, it has been states and it can only be states that can declare lockdowns, require health checks, or impose travel restrictions. Furthermore, no international body can roll out an effective vaccination plan. That will also have to be carried out by the state.”

Dr. Lieven also draws attention to the particular threat climate change poses to Qatar and the region due to rising water levels and temperatures, noting that “Qatar Foundation’s investments in research and in supporting alternative energy projects, in particular solar” is a good start to combatting those threats.

Dr. Lieven is currently working on updates to the book for the upcoming paperback edition coming out in 2021 to take into account the impact of a Biden presidency in the U.S., and to expand on the future of clean and renewable energy.

Climate Change and the Nation State: The Realist Case is published by Penguin in the U.K. and Oxford University Press in the U.S. Dr. Lieven was previously a correspondent in South Asia and the former USSR, and an expert at think tanks in Washington, DC, and has taken part in numerous panels to discuss climate change and its impact on world politics. He has also published on the subject in journals and newspapers including The Observer (U.K.) and The National Interest (U.S.).