In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Environmental Politics in Asia

  • Introduction
  • General Sources
  • Climate
  • Rivers and Water
  • Energy
  • Environmental Politics under Illiberal Regimes

Political Science Environmental Politics in Asia
Adam Simpson, Mattijs Smits
  • LAST REVIEWED: 20 February 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 20 February 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0373


This bibliography covers the intersection of environmental politics and Asian studies. As part of the discipline of political science, it has a necessary focus on public participation, governance, and democracy. Since many countries in Asia experience less than democratic governance, the nature of political regimes and the impact of authoritarianism and illiberalism on environmental politics are also recurrent themes. While the forms of governance in countries across Asia are incredibly diverse, so are their societies and economies. States in Asia include some at the very top of the development scale, such as Singapore and Japan, and those near the bottom, including Myanmar and Laos. With such diversity across the region, we have adopted an issues-themed approach to the bibliography with sections on Climate, Rivers and Water, Energy and Environmental Politics under Illiberal Regimes. A General Sources section opens the bibliography by introducing readers to the key journals and handbooks for the topic, along with some important country studies.

General Sources

The general sources included in this section are either journals, handbooks, or country studies, which provide either extremely detailed and rigorous new research articles or more general overviews. There are no journals dedicated to environmental politics in Asia although the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography comes closest in providing a home for Asia- and environment-focused topics. In general, therefore, articles on topics related to environmental politics in Asia tend to appear in either general environmental politics journals or those focused on Asia. The two key general environmental politics journals are Environmental Politics and Global Environmental Politics. Both publish high quality research, although in both journals topics related to Asia are in the minority. Society and Natural Resources is a more sociological journal which also publishes in the environmental politics field although, again, Asian topics are rare. Political ecology–focused journals such as Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space and the more boutique Journal of Political Ecology, which has one online open access issue a year, also provide a home for the occasional Asia-themed article. The Annals of the American Association of Geographers publishes articles on a wide range of geographic topics that intermittently examine environmental politics in Asia. Likewise, in Asia-focused journals such as Asia-Pacific Viewpoint, articles related to environmental politics appear but do not dominate. There are two key handbooks for this topic, both published by Routledge and available in hardback, paperback, and eBook formats. The first is the edited volume Harris and Lang 2015, which takes on the daunting task of examining environment and society across the whole of Asia. The later edited volume Hirsch 2017 offers thirty chapters focused on the environment in Southeast Asia and therefore provides a more detailed and granular examination of the issues across that region. The two country studies included examine environmental politics in the two giants of Asia, China and India, each of which have populations of approximately 1.4 billion people. Managing the environment sustainably with this many people is a difficult proposition but the countries have adopted almost diametrically opposed political systems to address environmental and developmental challenges: India is a vibrant democracy, despite authoritarian tendencies, while China is an authoritarian single party state ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. In the highly regarded second edition of Shapiro 2016, the author considers whether China’s enormous environmental problems are so severe that they may shake the Communist Party’s grip on power—its stability, legitimacy, and control. A more recent edited volume on India, Ciecierska-Holmes, et al. 2020, employs political science theories of policy processes and related theoretical concepts to examine environmental policy in India’s diverse federal system of government.

  • Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 1911–.

    The flagship journal of the American Association of Geographers and one of the oldest academic journals examining geography and the environment, currently published by Taylor & Francis. Of particular note, a 2019 special issue on “Environmental Governance in a Populist/Authoritarian Era” (vol. 109, no. 2) contains several articles examining environmental politics in Asia under authoritarian or illiberal regimes.

  • Asia-Pacific Viewpoint. 1960–.

    A long-standing journal published by Wiley in association with the Victoria University of Wellington.

  • Ciecierska-Holmes, Natalia, Kirsten Jörgensen, Lana Laura Ollier, and D. Raghunandan. Environmental Policy in India. London and New York: Routledge, 2020.

    A relatively recent volume that addresses various aspects of India’s environmental policymaking such as climate, energy, water, forests, and city development.

  • Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. 2018–.

    A recently launched interdisciplinary journal published by SAGE with articles related to political ecology, environmental justice, and science and technology studies.

  • Environmental Politics. 1992–.

    This was the first academic journal to focus specifically on environmental politics and for many years it had a European focus. There have been attempts to widen the geographic scope which have had a degree of success. Asia is not the focus of the journal, however, and when articles do cover the region they tend to focus on developed northeast Asia. The periodical is published by Taylor & Francis and remains one of the two top journals for environmental politics.

  • Global Environmental Politics. 2001–.

    This was the second academic journal to focus on environmental politics and has tended to primarily serve the North American market although there have been attempts to widen its geographic scope. Climate change and global environmental governance are common themes. Published by MIT Press and the other major journal for environmental politics.

  • Harris, Paul G., and Graeme Lang, eds. Routledge Handbook of Environment and Society in Asia. London and New York: Routledge, 2015.

    Ambitious edited volume covering environment and society across all of Asia.

  • Hirsch, Philip, ed. Routledge Handbook of the Environment in Southeast Asia. London and New York: Routledge, 2017.

    Edited volume with detailed and granular examination of environmental issues across Southeast Asia.

  • Journal of Political Ecology. 1994–.

    This journal, published by the University of Arizona since its inception, focuses on political ecology, which encompasses political economy, multi-scalar analysis of environmental issues and ecologies, access to resources, and environmental and social justice.

  • Shapiro, Judith. China’s Environmental Challenges. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2016.

    Highly regarded book in its second edition on the monumental environmental challenges facing China and its government.

  • Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. 1980–.

    A journal published by Wiley in conjunction with the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. Focuses on the tropical regions, particularly Asia.

  • Society and Natural Resources. 1988–.

    A US-based journal published by Taylor & Francis which adopts a broadly sociological approach to environmental concerns. Generally focused on the United States although there have been efforts to broaden its geographic scope.

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