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[greenyes] Sources of influence in climate change policymaking


A posting yesterday described the support of the head of Shell oil for
concern on global climate change.

For those of you who like to delve into environmental policy decisionmaking,
you might want to look at a recent PhD thesis that compares how
environmental policy is made in Norway, Germany and the US, with global
climate change as the issue. It's 461 pages long and available at no cost on
the internet at
http://www.cicero.uio.no/publications/detail.asp?publication_id=2274&lang=en
, with the following as a summary:

"This thesis looks at differences in climate policymaking between Norway,
Germany, and the United States in two respects: the policymaking process,
that is, what kind of considerations are taken into account when policy is
formulated; and policy outcome, that is, the degree to which the policies
that are adopted are proactive.

The theoretical assumptions made by three distinct explanatory models are
used to understand these differences. First, the Unitary Rational Actor
model focuses on national welfare concerns, such as national cost and
benefit assessments, and interdependence of the international community.
Second, the Domestic Politics model considers the distribution of costs and
benefits among domestic actors, and how public demand and support for
climate policy interplays with governmental supply of policy (i.e.,
political system design and institutional interaction). Finally, the Social
Learning and Ideas model looks at how both cultural differences between
countries and learning-induced changes in perceptions can set the course for
the policymaking process.

The results of the analysis show that all three models had rather high
explanatory power for the policymaking processes. Two factors in particular
had high explanatory power in all three countries: cost-benefit assessments
and governmental supply of policy. In terms of predicting policy outcome,
the Unitary Rational Actor model was predicting a lower level of
proactiveness for all countries than was the actual outcome, hence
indicating that the model did not take into account all relevant factors to
explain level of proactiveness. The Domestic Politics model predicted policy
outcome well. How countries' political systems regulated distribution of
power and influence between domestic institutions and actors was identified
as a central element for explaining why the countries chose different
proactivity in their climate policy. The Social Learning and Ideas model was
less suited for the purpose, and did best as tool for detailed analysis of
the role of culture and norms in molding the policymaking process, and for
explaining choice of policy instruments.

The research helps explain how these processes and policy outcomes operate
in a real-world context, emphasizing the considerations policymakers take
into account. It also helps to explain why some countries adopt a more
proactive climate change policy stance than others."

Happy reading,

John Reindl






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