AbstractsPolitical Science

Fiddling While the World Burns| The Double Representation of Carbon Polluters in Comparative Climate Policymaking

by Matto Mildenberger

Institution: Yale University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Climate change; Political science; Public policy
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2067310
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10012999


Despite the absence of a binding global climate agreement, many advanced economies have enacted or attempted major national climate reforms over the past two decades. What accounts for variation between countries in the timing and ambition of these national climate policies? In this dissertation, I draw on literatures from comparative political economy, public policy and environmental politics to develop a new theory of climate policy conflict that explains national climate policymaking trajectories across advanced economies. My argument proceeds in two parts. First, I detail a recurrent pattern of climate policy conflict that I describe as the logic of double representation. When the climate threat emerged in the late 1980s, this new issue exposed latent differences in the material interests of otherwise similar economic stakeholders, particularly labor and business actors. As a result, climate policy opponents became embedded in both left-leaning and right-leaning political coalitions. In political systems where organized labor was allied with the largest left-wing party and emissions-intensive businesses were allied with the largest right-wing party, a `double representation' of emissions-intensive economic interests resulted. In these cases, parties on both sides of the ideological spectrum had factions representing the interests of carbon-intensive constituencies within climate policy debates. This dynamic privileged carbon polluters' voice in climate policymaking. Second, I argue there is an interaction between these cross-cutting climate policy preferences and domestic political institutions. Domestic political institutions can either strongly or weakly reinforce the logic of double representation, depending on carbon-dependent economic actors' access to climate policy design. This access is shaped by policymaking institutions, for instance through corporatist links between economic stakeholders and policymakers. Access is also a function of political organizations, for instance through historically contingent links between labor or business associations and political parties. I show how carbon-dependent economic actors' differential access to climate policy design creates two distinct causal pathways that can both lead to climate policy enactment. The first pathway occurs when carbon polluters control climate policy design. In this pathway, producer-friendly climate policies are enacted with little political conflict. The second pathway occurs when carbon polluters have more limited influence on climate policy design. This pathway leads to less producer-friendly policies and greater political conflict. I then show how institutional differences between countries condition the prevalence of these two pathways, helping to explain cross-national differences in national climate policies' timing and content. I develop and test this account of national climate policy conflict using detailed qualitative analysis of climate politics in three advanced economies: Norway, the United…