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Governing turbulent transitions: the politics of climate change and low-carbon transitions during austerity in the UK, 2006-2016

Gillard, Ross Owain Appleton (2017) Governing turbulent transitions: the politics of climate change and low-carbon transitions during austerity in the UK, 2006-2016. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Addressing the causes and consequences of anthropogenic climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world. A range of social and technical responses to this challenge have been proposed, which – if successfully mobilised – can limit dangerous climate warming through a transition to a low-carbon and resilient society. The role of the nation state in governing such a large-scale transition is often presumed, but it is in fact highly uncertain. At a time when political and economic trends in Western Europe have made government intervention and investment in climate policies particularly difficult, this thesis offers a timely analysis of the politics of climate change in the UK. Drawing on extensive qualitative data this thesis addresses four questions. First, to what extent do current approaches to describing and prescribing low-carbon transitions adequately address their social and political dimensions? Second, how have the fundamental ideas of climate change politics and economics changed during 2006-2016? Third, what impact have these changes had on climate and energy policy outputs? And finally, where are the governance innovations coming from and what is government’s role in empowering them? Multiple analytical frameworks are used to answer these questions in four distinct, but related, articles. The first article offers a critical review of popular academic and governance approaches to sustainability transitions. The following three articles explore these theoretical claims through empirical analyses of: the fluctuating nature of institutionalised discourses, the rationalisation of renewable energy policy retrenchment, and the ambiguous role of the state in facilitating a more polycentric approach to climate governance. This thesis argues that the complexity of climate change as a political issue is a double-edged sword, which provides opportunities for mobilising multiple sources of agency on the one hand, but which also diffuses responsibility and creates unhelpful trade-offs between various interests and policy goals on the other. It provides new theoretical tools for analysing this paradox, as well as new empirical insights into the UK case study and beyond.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Climate change; politics; policy; governance
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.736505
Depositing User: Ross O A Gillard
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2018 16:39
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:56
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19654

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