The meanings of climate change policy: implementing carbon reduction in the East Midlands

Pearce, Warren (2013) The meanings of climate change policy: implementing carbon reduction in the East Midlands. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The UK 2008 Climate Change Act transferred a global policy issue into national legislation, establishing unprecedented targets for reducing emissions justified by scientific evidence. The Act prompted a question: could such stretching targets be achieved? This question is addressed through an embedded case study within the East Midlands region between 2010-2011. The research makes an original contribution to knowledge, taking an interpretive, decentred approach to subnational climate policy implementation, focusing on the policy meanings created and acted upon during the introduction of the Cameron Government’s austerity and localism agendas. These meanings are recovered using a mix of conversational interviews and meeting observations with policy actors.

Subnational climate policy met significant challenges in being translated into action, being seen as peripheral to local policy concerns. Managers attempted to ‘embed’ climate policy within local authority practice, but were met with resistance and passivity stemming from climate policy’s diverse meanings amongst policy actors.

Performance management was important in symbolising rational policy-making, rather than for its instrumental effectiveness. This briefly raised the priority of climate policy, but where locally compelling political arguments for implementation were absent, programmes became vulnerable to budget cuts. With stronger local arguments focusing on kindred policy areas such as fuel poverty and reducing local authorities’ own energy use, vulnerability was reduced. Localism brought such arguments into focus, as regional partnerships weakened and the National Indicators performance management framework was removed. Responses to these developments highlighted how perceptions of the location and flow of power contributed to meaning construction.

The shift to kindred policy aims brings into question the plausibility of climate change targets predicated on scientific evidence rather than local policy meanings. The endurance of local climate policy is explained as a policy myth, enabling short term continuity with the promise of longer term change.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Cope, S.
Stafford, B.
Keywords: climate change, local government, public policy, environment policy, science policy, interpretive policy analysis, policy implementation,
Subjects: H Social sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Q Science > QC Physics > QC811 Geomagnetism. Meteorology. Climatology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 13680
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2013 12:20
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2017 12:18

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