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The Link between Contested Knowledge, Beliefs and Learning in European Climate Governance: From Consensus to Conflict in Reforming Biofuels Policy

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Katharine Rietig



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The close link between scientific knowledge, learning and beliefs is particularly relevant in environmental policy making and the interaction of environmental with economic development-focused policies. This article contributes to a more refined understanding of the link between scientific knowledge, belief changes and the move from a collaborative to an adversarial policy sub-system within the Advocacy Coalition Framework. It analyzes the process of drafting and negotiating the biofuels aspects of the European Renewable Energy Directive, which was dominated by political disagreements between two advocacy coalitions. Their initial agreement on increasing the share of renewable energies in transport turned into conflict after new scientific evidence emerged on the negative environmental and climate change impacts of crop based biofuels. The environmental coalition changed its empirical policy beliefs to reflect normative policy beliefs on environmental protection. This change in empirical policy beliefs uncovered a pre-existing conflict with the normative policy beliefs of the economic development-focused coalition. As a consequence, the collaborative policy subsystem shifted to an adversarial policy subsystem.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rietig K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Policy Studies Journal

Year: 2018

Volume: 46

Issue: 1

Pages: 137-159

Print publication date: 01/02/2018

Online publication date: 24/06/2016

Acceptance date: 22/03/2016

Date deposited: 20/05/2016

ISSN (print): 0190-292X

ISSN (electronic): 1541-0072

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/psj.12169


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