Comparing Climate Policy Networks in the Germany and the UK

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:50 PM
Room: 503
Oral Presentation
Clare SAUNDERS , University of Exeter, United Kingdom
Volker SCHNEIDER , University of Konstanz, Germany
This paper compares, contrasts and accounts for the different outcomes of the climate policy networks of two western industrialised nations: Germany and the UK. Both are generally considered to have undergone changes in their environmental policy discourse from end-of-pipe solutions to more integrated forms of environmental management associated with ecological modernisation. Yet the two countries differ in terms of their climate policy networks. In Germany, the most influential policy actors are drawn mostly from policy arenas, industry and science. This is typical of what we might expect under conditions of ecological modernisation. In the UK, in contrast, the most influential actors represent either government or quasi-governmental institutions or the NGO sector. The UK has probably the most ambitious climate change legislation across the world, instituted in the Climate Change Act (2008), which calls for cuts in carbon dioxide of 80% on 1990 levels by 2050. However, little serious effort is underway to make headway towards achieving the targets. Thus, climate policy in the UK represents what one might anticipate given the nature of the policy network: the presence of strong advocacy coalition calling for large-scale cuts in GHG emissions, but one that has relatively little influence compared to climate policy network actors advocating business as usual. What is surprising, though, is the relative lack of influence of the energy giants.  In Germany, less ambitious targets for reducing emissions and a set of more discrete concrete actions to address climate change could be considered the result of a policy network of ecological modernists, where pragmatic realism pervades.