This quarter’s highlights collection focuses on three of our most widely read and cited articles this year. All three were featured in our special issue published in July on Transformational Change in Public Policy which was guest edited by our co-editors: Oscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop, Elizabeth Koebele and Chris Weible.
The authors highlight how significant time and effort has been spent seeking to understand policy change around the major societal issues we face. Yet their findings show that most change tends to be incremental. The consequent challenge they set out is whether or not public policy scholarship is up to the job of developing a coherent research programme to build knowledge and enable necessary, positive transformational change.
Caroline Kuzemko, Mathieu Blondeel, and Antony Froggatt.
Now, a year and a half post the end of the transition period and as the Northern Ireland Protocol bill passes its first round of votes in the House of Commons, is a good moment to assess the implications of Brexit for UK energy and climate policy.
Brexit was framed as a route back towards a truly ‘Great’ Britain. Getting Brexit done was meant to ‘take back control of our money, laws and borders’ and enable new, global trading relationships, whilst also reducing bureaucratic burdens and keeping public funds in the UK, to be spent on the NHS. This infers that the UK would be able to do things ‘better’ than the EU.
Policy & Politics is a top quartile journal in public administration and political science. Its co-editors, Oscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Chris Weible, invite articles for a themed issue on “Transformational Change through Public Policy”. The deadline for abstract submissions is May 14 2021.
How can Public Policy as a discipline contribute to desperately needed transformational change in our societies? Climate scientists call for systemic change; our liberal democracies suffer from crises in legitimacy; economic and social inequality continues to grow; culture wars increasingly polarise societies, and so on. Scholars have excelled at describing and diagnosing these problems exploring and explaining how they have emerged, and occasionally positing few ideas for their improvements. Despite the knowledge gained in our scholarship, a need continues to persist and spread for ideas to achieve deeper and more transformative societal changes. Continue reading →
At last climate change is moving to the top of the political agenda worldwide. I joined Extinction Rebellion in October 2018, frustrated at the lack of action by governments generally in the face of accelerating increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, and in particular by the UK government’s decision to go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow Airport, which can only contribute further to this great acceleration. Much has changed in the last year but governments have largely continued with ‘business as usual’, with all that that means in terms of supporting the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, the intensification of agriculture, the destruction of rain forests, the pollution of the world’s oceans, and so on. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
We were delighted to welcome Lord Anthony Giddens on 17th March 2015 to speak on The Politics of Climate Change. The event was fully booked some weeks beforehand and the Great Hall was packed on the night. Lord Giddens did not disappoint in presenting a clear and pressing case for the need for urgent action to address the problem of climate change.
Below is a film of the whole lecture in case you want to listen again, or if you were not able to get a ticket. We are most grateful to Lord Giddens for allowing us to use it.
Lord Anthony Giddens presented the Policy and Politics Annual Lecture, in Bristol, on Tuesday 17th March. The theme of the lecture was to consider what recent progress has been made on climate change and what stops us doing more. Lord Giddens concluded his lecture with a proposal for the need for a new paradigm to provide the change needed to generate the radical solutions that are now necessary.
Lord Anthony Giddens first wrote “The Politics of Climate Change” in 2007/08, a time of optimism and hope, when change to reduce carbon emissions seemed top of the agenda both nationally and globally. It was a time of opportunity, seized by politicians like Al Gore who published his book and produced the film “An Inconvenient Truth” to great acclaim. It was also the time of the biggest United Nations meeting on climate change in Copenhagen where over 100 nations met to discuss measures to address the problems of climate change and reducing carbon emissions.
Lord Giddens moved us through this period of optimism to one of dashed hopes and increasing fears following the lack of agreement in Copenhagen. He talked about the difficulties of measuring climate change and the range of indicators needed to assess impacts. He argued that despite the advancements in science and knowledge, there are still many sceptics who refuse to acknowledge the very real changes we are experiencing. Indeed, one of the problems with climate change, he explained, lies in its irreversible nature, the fact that once greenhouse gases are in Continue reading →
by Christine Cheyne, Member of the Policy & Politics Editorial Advisory Board and Associate Professor, School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University, New Zealand
I’m always drawn to ‘edge-y’ articles – or writing that decenters, provokes and challenges – and this issue does not disappoint. The article by Andrew Ryder, Gypsies and Travellers a Big or Divided Society, offers a fresh perspective on the localism debate that has characterised recent UK public policy. Although much less a feature of other jurisdictions, the localism debate in the UK that has some resonance for readers in many parts of the world as it highlights long-standing tensions in democratic theory between statism and localism. These tensions, I would argue, have been exploited by higher levels of government in many parts of the world (including my own country, New Zealand) since the 2008 global financial crisis. Ryder shows with his case study of the treatment of Gypsy and Traveller site provision under the new localist planning system that even though overt state intervention is resiled from, localism can be a new form of control of local politics and can exacerbate inequalities and social exclusion which might otherwise be mitigated through central planning guidance or redistributive policies. Ryder asserts Habermas’s deliberative democratic ideal in making a case for a ‘new centralism’, an inclusive governance that recognizes a role for a central state to protect vulnerable minorities, but which also insists on participatory and deliberative democratic processes so that localism doesn’t become (or increase) NIMBY-ism.
Provoking some further intellectual discomfort, climate change is a profoundly complex public policy challenge to which meaningful responses continue to be lacking. While the focus is often, appropriately, on younger age groups and the implications for their lifestyles, Wistow et al. draw attention to the realities for a particularly vulnerable group in our society, the dependent elderly, who are less visibly but, arguably, more seriously disadvantaged by extreme weather events associated with climate change that can damage and destroy built infrastructure. With an ageing population dependent on electricity supply, not just for domestic heating (or cooling), but also for provision of medical care such as hoists, oxygen supplies and dialysis, contemplating the adverse consequences of disruption from extreme weather events is sobering. Wistow et al. provide detailed data from interviews and focus groups about the risks and options to address them. Even if 50 is the new 30, readers will be challenged to think about the implications for the ageing/dependent groups – if not ourselves then our older family members from whom we are often living at some distance. Localism has much yet to deliver both for our most vulnerable groups but for all of us experiencing climate change. Getting the balance between central and local leadership and community participation is critical.
You can read the whole January 2015 issue of Policy & Politics here.