The Political Sustainability of Climate Policy: The case of the UK
By: Matthew Lockwood
In: Global Environmental Change
This paper assesses the forces working for and against the political sustainability ofthe 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. Ananalysis 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.
Keywords: Climate change, Climate policy, Public opinion, Politics, UK
Date: August 2013
This is an Open Access article and can be downloaded from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378013001076#