Category Archives: Environmental policy

The UK government is pro-fracking and the Swiss authorities are against, so why is there very little difference in policy outcomes between the two? ask Paul Cairney (University of Stirling), Karin Ingold (University of Bern) and Manuel Fischer (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

paul-cairney-karin-ingold-manuel-fischer

At first glance, UK and Swiss fracking policy and policymaking seem very different. The UK government centralises policymaking and can impose policy from the top down, while in Switzerland many veto points  exist in its so-called  ‘consensus’ democracy. The UK government is pro-fracking, while Swiss authorities have come out against it. So it is striking that there seems to be very little  difference in their policy outcomes. Why, if the UK government has stated its position as ‘all out for shale’, has there been limited commercial development and very little challenge to policymaking done at regional rather than national level? Why is policy and policymaking surprisingly similar in the UK and Switzerland?   Continue reading The UK government is pro-fracking and the Swiss authorities are against, so why is there very little difference in policy outcomes between the two? ask Paul Cairney (University of Stirling), Karin Ingold (University of Bern) and Manuel Fischer (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

Electricity Market Reform: so what’s new?

David Baker and David Toke
Keith Baker and David Toke

by Keith Baker and David Toke

In 2013, Britain’s electricity markets were reorganized through Electricity Market Reform (EMR). The programme of EMR sought to prioritise the public goods of energy security and climate change mitigation. This marked a shift away from free markets towards a greater role for state direction in the energy market.

In our Policy & Politics article entitled Electricity Market Reform: so what’s new? we use grid group cultural theory to explain changes in the regulatory regime under EMR. Cultural theory claims that regulatory actions result from more cultural biases: individualism, hierarchy, egalitarianism and fatalism. Individualists privilege free markets, hierarchs privilege expert and government authority, egalitarians emphasise equity, the environment and community lead decision-making and fatalists are resigned to carious fate. We claim that EMR represents an incomplete shift from ‘individualist’ to ‘hierarchical’ approaches to the regulation of the British energy market.

We argue that conflicts between the different frames explain the institutional design of EMR. Whilst the egalitarian bias is implicit in the drive for decarbonisation and support for renewables, a hierarchical bias and panic Continue reading Electricity Market Reform: so what’s new?

Community Resilience and Crisis Management: Policy Lessons from the Ground

Nicole George
Nicole George

Nicole George and Alastair Stark (University of Queensland) discuss their  recent contribution to the journal, Community Resilience and Crisis Management: policy lessons from the ground

The last months of 2010 and the first months of 2011 are remembered in Queensland as the ’summer of sorrow’. During this period, an unprecedented flood emergency inundated 78% of the north-eastern state’s territory. More than 60 lives were lost. 6 billion dollars of damage was done to public infrastructure while private insurance payouts to home-owners and businesses totalled more than 2 billion dollars.

Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, did not escape this natural disaster. By the second week of January, residents and business owners in low-lying suburbs were caught off-guard as a flood moved rapidly down the Brisbane River.  They hastily evacuated what possessions they could, then watched with a sense of disbelief as muddy waters rose through their streets and two days later receded. When they could return to their water and mud sodden homes, and began to pick through the chaos of destroyed belongings, the true extent of the emergency became real for many.

In the days that followed, flood waters were replaced by floods of citizen-volunteers who gathered spontaneously in affected Continue reading Community Resilience and Crisis Management: Policy Lessons from the Ground

A reflection on “Giddens’s paradox”

Ron Johnston and Chris Deeming
Ron Johnston and Chris Deeming

by Ron Johnston and Chris Deeming

In his article The Politics of Climate Change as in the the two editions of his The Politics of Climate Change, Anthony Giddens identifies what he and others now refer to as ‘Giddens’s paradox’ – that although climate scientists are increasingly certain about the nature and intensity of anthropogenic climate change the general public is becoming less concerned that it is a crucial issue calling for immediate comprehensive, global action. He identifies four reasons for this: the well-funded campaigns against policy proposals to reduce carbon emissions, often involving disinformation, by those who would lose financially, notably companies involved in fossil fuels; the difficulties lay people have in appreciating climate science and the concepts of risk and uncertainty; the ‘free rider’ issue – why should Britain (or any country for that matter) which is only a small contributor to the global emissions total take a lead in tackling the issue; and the primacy that many countries, especially those in the developing world, place on economic development.

There is thus a global paralysis regarding climate change policy that needs to be broken. Giddens suggests that a new policy paradigm is now urgently needed, based Continue reading A reflection on “Giddens’s paradox”