The political sustainability of climate policy: the case of the UK Climate Change Act

Lockwood, Matthew (2013) The political sustainability of climate policy: the case of the UK Climate Change Act. Global Environmental Change, 25 (3). pp. 1339-1348. ISSN 0959-3780

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This paper assesses the forces working for and against the political sustainability of the UK 2008 Climate Change Act. The adoption of the Act is seen as a landmark commitment to action on climate change, but its implementation has not been studied in any depth. Recent events, including disagreements over the fourth carbon budget and the decarbonisation of the electricity sector, shows that while the Act might appear to lock in a commitment to reducing emissions through legal means, this does not guarantee political lock-in. The assumption, made by some proponents of the Act, that accountability of political leaders to a public concerned about climate change, via Parliament, would provide the main political underpinning to the Act is criticised. An analysis of alternative sources of political durability is presented, drawing on a framework for understanding the sustainability of reform developed by Patashnik. It is argued that the Act has helped create major institutional transformations, although the degree to which new institutions have displaced the power of existing ones is limited. The Act has produced some policy feedback effects, especially in the business community, and some limited investment effects, but both have been insufficient to withstand destabilisation by recent party political conflicts. The Climate Change Act remains at risk.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General) > JF1338 Public administration
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN0101 Great Britain
Depositing User: Matthew Lockwood
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2019 12:27
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2019 12:27

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