The role of expectations and visions of the future in the development of target-based environmental policies: the case of the UK Air Quality Strategy

McKean, Vanessa (2015) The role of expectations and visions of the future in the development of target-based environmental policies: the case of the UK Air Quality Strategy. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Increasingly, policy-makers rely on forecasts to set targets for environmental and health protection. I examine the UK Air Quality Strategies (AQS) for particulate matter (1997-2007). Here policy-makers select and articulate visions for technological and policy developments in order to set targets and policies to achieve them. Despite growing evidence for adverse health effects of particulates, challenging targets in 1997 were followed by two revisions of Objectives without introducing measures for reducing pollution. In 2007 more challenging targets were resumed. This thesis is a study of the formation and evolution of a policy framework: of the interactions and contrasting roles of scientific expertise, wider political discourse, and the ‘futures’ presented by actors involved in the policy process. Sociology of Expectations has previously examined the roles of visions in innovation processes. I extended this framework to examine dynamics of visions in the policy-making process. My findings were based on analysis of visions and discourses identified in texts, model data, and interviews.
Whilst none of the explanatory factors alone accounted the developments in the AQS, together they provide an explanation of change which highlights the role of learning by policy-makers . Visions for technological development articulated in each version of the AQS were in line with the dominant visions articulated in central government, but over time policy-makers responsible for the Strategy used them to present options for taking action on pollution. Co-construction of the AQS and modelled forecasts enabled policy-makers responsible for the Strategy to articulate visions for technologies and policies to promote taking action to reduce pollutants, and this led to the more action-oriented Strategy in 2007.
This thesis proposes that visions can change more quickly than wider political discourses, and as such can provide opportunities for the introduction of new discourses.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0079 Special topics, A-Z > HC0079.E5 Environmental policy and economic development. Sustainable development Including environmental economics
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering > TD0878 Special types of environment Including soil pollution, air pollution, noise pollution
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2015 06:56
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2015 06:56

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