GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Sustainability in the Rentier State
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper aims to question the ‘Rentier State’ theory as it applies to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s countries from the perspective of environmental sustainability. This article will look at two trends that are increasingly challenging the capacity of Gulf countries to operate as rentier states:
First at the local level, in the last two decades and mostly in the 2000’s, Gulf cities have seen fast top-down urban and economic developments. This has turned the GCC into a fossil fuel consumer in addition to its historical role as a producer and exporter. A break in the ‘consumption-cost causation’ (Luomi) impedes the rentier state’s sustainability and raises concerns in terms of energy security – a novelty for GCC states. This complements the ‘break in work-reward causation’ (Beblawi, Luciani) which hinders the rentier state’s productivity.
Second, over the same period of time, the emergence of climate change on the global agenda increased the plausibility of a progressive shift towards a low-carbon economy. This has the potential to divert the global demand for energy away from fossil fuels, hence further weakening the rentier capacity of Gulf States. This comes in addition to increased pressures on societies that became the highest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide globally.
After assessing the current threats of these two simultaneous trends on the GCC’s economies, this research will endeavor to explore a number of – more or less successful – policies and strategies these countries are developing in order to mitigate these threats and preserve their rentier capacity. Energy mix and industrial diversifications are two survival strategies Gulf states are adopting to respectively answer the local threat of energy security and the global threat of a shift to a low-carbon economy. Through a handful of case studies, this paper will try to address the more general questions of the impact of rentier behavior on environmental sustainability, and the reverse effect of environmental ‘unsustainability’ on these states’ rentier capacity.