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Policy Stability in Climate Governance: The Case of the United Kingdom

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, 2017.

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


‘Super-wicked’ problems such as climate change require ambitious policies within stable policy frameworks. Key for policy stability is to disincentivise future reversals to carbon-intensive lifestyles resulting in unstoppable climate change. It requires lock-in into a low-carbon development trajectory, increasing popular support and needs to be self-reinforcing with reversal costs rising over time as benefits increase. In parliamentary political systems (e.g. UK), policies emerge more easily but are more difficult to maintain given that shifting political majorities can result in policy U-turns, resulting in uncertainties for investment in low-carbon transitions. We examine what factors determine policy stability in UK Climate Change Policy aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 85-90% by 2050. Policy stability depends on favourable public opinion and the political system. In the case of parliamentary democracies the extent to which it is embedded into a multilevel governance institutional framework and political cross-party consensus is particularly important for policy stability.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rietig K, Laing T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Policy and Governance

Year: 2017

Volume: 27

Issue: 6

Pages: 575-587

Print publication date: 01/11/2017

Online publication date: 15/08/2017

Acceptance date: 17/04/2017

Date deposited: 20/04/2017

ISSN (print): 1756-932X

ISSN (electronic): 1756-9338

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1002/eet.1762


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