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.
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 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.