A New Research Paper: Manoeuvres for a Low Carbon State
Most of the discussion about how to respond to climate change revolves largely around how to reach international agreement on universal national emissions reduction targets. And this debate will continue at the Rio+20 meeting this week. But what happens when the delegates go home? What about the sticky problem of how to implement these targets nationally (and locally) in very different political and institutional contexts? As with most other developmental challenges, emissions reduction is not simply a technical problem, but is also a profoundly political one, requiring key actors and agencies to work in different ways in different structural contexts.
As the late Elinor Ostrom said in her last article, setting international targets “can overcome inertia but everyone must have a stake in establishing them: countries, states, cities, organizations, companies and people everywhere. Success will hinge on developing many overlapping policies to achieve the goals.”
This excellent new DLP paper by Tom Harrison and Genia Kostka addresses this question head-on. In a fascinating comparative analysis of China and India, the paper analyses the different political strategies used sub-nationally in the two countries to formulate and implement policies that aim to ensure that emissions reductions targets are met. Given that China and India are the two developing countries with the highest level of CO2 emissions, the authors address the far from straightforward issue of how political and bureaucratic leaderships work locally in very different institutional and structural contexts to bring together competing interests and priorities to try to ensure that mitigation strategies are successful.
Focusing on the role of key public and private players and the coalitions of interest they forged, the paper explores the different political strategies pursued in India and China. How do local leaders and implementers in the relevant government departments (and beyond) manoeuvre to balance and align emission reduction measures with competing interests and other, more politically attractive, policy priorities? What political strategies do they use to build formal and informal alliances among these competing interests, both within and between government agencies and across wider society? And what lessons for the international community and other countries does this comparative analysis provide about how to understand the local politics of emissions reduction and how to identify and support the manoeuvres that will strengthen the political processes that improve climate change mitigation?
Read the paper: