The political effects of climate policy: Policy feedback from the European Union Emissions Trading System

Moore, Brendan (2018) The political effects of climate policy: Policy feedback from the European Union Emissions Trading System. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Greenhouse gas emissions trading has been widely promoted as a policy instrument that overcomes well-known political barriers to climate change mitigation. But others contend its political consequences make climate mitigation more difficult. However, few in-depth, theoretically-informed studies directly assess these claims. This thesis addresses these gaps by exploring the circumstances in which emissions trading generates policy feedback influencing subsequent political processes by reinforcing or undermining political support for the original policy.
The study focuses on the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the world’s largest and longest-operating trading system, combining the existing policy feedback literature with related literatures on emissions trading and EU policy making. Through document analysis and elite interviews, it examines the evolution of the ETS from 1998 to 2018, tracing its effects on actors, resources, and policy preferences over time.
This analysis reveals that while EU policy makers anticipated political obstacles to adopting the ETS, they gave less consideration to post-adoption policy feedback.
Indeed, the unintended feedback effects of the ETS were significant. One such selfreinforcing effect was the growth of a network of actors – such as industry associations and environmental NGOs – that became involved in subsequent policymaking processes and largely supported emissions trading. However, self-reinforcing feedback also stymied attempts to recalibrate the ETS to fit changing conditions.
Other, self-undermining feedback reduced support for the status quo policy but facilitated political opportunities for policy centralization and steeper emission reductions. Self-reinforcing and self-undermining policy feedback therefore coexisted and interacted in subtle ways not fully explained in the existing literature.
These findings are useful to those studying the long-term political viability of climate mitigation policy. They also contribute to the existing literature on policy feedback by analyzing a regulatory policy area in which feedback has been less explored. Finally, for EU scholars, they bring into sharper focus the endogenous influence of existing EU public policies on subsequent politics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Megan Ruddock
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2019 14:56
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2022 01:38

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