Climate Policy and Political Parties Project, 2013-2015: Executive Summary

The project (2013-2015) was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council to explore the hitherto unexplored issue of political party activity and climate change policy.

• Research question guiding the project: How have mainstream political parties responded to the emergence of climate change as a policy issue?
• Mainstream centre-left and centre-right parties in six EU member states investigated to determine their position concerning climate mitigation policy – UK, Denmark, Italy, France, Germany and Ireland (two centre-right parties compared in Ireland).
• Created an innovative method for measuring the pro- and anti-climate policy content in party manifestos (mid-1990s to present).
• Together with interviews with party politicians, national climate policy experts and NGOs, our findings suggest:
a) Differences between centre-left and centre-right parties in percentage of pro/anti-climate policy manifesto promises in general; centre-left generally stronger with some exceptions (Denmark 2007, UK 2010).
b) For some countries, the period between 2007 and 2010 was the peak of pro-climate manifesto statements (Denmark, UK, Italy), explained by the surrounding events leading up to the Copenhagen COP 15 and the subsequent impact of the economic/Eurozone crisis.
c) Electoral politics, including the need for electoral pacts, green parties and government coalition, may influence centre-left and centre-right climate policy ambition (case studies of Denmark, France, Italy and Germany).
d) Beyond manifesto statements, discernible differences between the ambition of climate policy in government between centre-left and centre-right parties, even in countries considered climate policy leaders, i.e. Denmark, the UK and Germany.
e) Key individuals in centre-left and centre-right parties play a leadership position in advancing or instilling more ambition in national climate mitigation policies.
• Implications for national, EU and international climate change policy:
a) Partisan change of government is an important factor for medium to long term climate mitigation policy development, notably regarding investment in low carbon energy transitions;
b) Government change from left to right may affect the hoped for climate policy ‘ambition’ of national governments’ INDC’s, as decided by the Paris COP 21.
c) Regulation vs market approach to renewables, energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction is tied to political party positions, therefore indirectly affects lobbying potential from business and environment interest groups.

Project team: Prof Robert Ladrech (PI), Keele University; Prof Neil Carter (Co-I), University of York; Dr Conor Little, University of Copenhagen, and Dr Vasiliki Tsagkroni, Keele University.

Professor Robert Ladrech’s presentation at the international conference ‘Progressives for Climate’

Professor Robert Ladrech (SPIRE)  delivered a presentation based on findings from his ERSC-funded project ‘Climate Policy and Political Parties’ at the international conference ‘Progressives for Climate’, in Paris, 10 April. Held in the Victor Hugo hall at the French National Assembly, other participants included Laurent Fabius, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, Qi Ye, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing, and Marie-Helene Aubert, senior policy advisor to the French President for International Environmental and Climate Change Negotiations. As France is to preside over the Paris Conference on Climate in December 2015, this international conference gathered international high-level experts and policymakers to advance a progressive vision of climate action and promote collective action.

‘Parties, democracy and the politics of climate change’ Workshop Report

On Friday the 30th of January, the Climate Policy and Political Parties project organised an international workshop held at Friends House in London. The theme of the event was ‘Parties, democracy and the politics of climate change’.

The workshop featured presentations from the Climate Policy and Political Parties projects team intended to explore the first phase of the project’s findings. Amongst the others there were contributions from policy practitioners including academics, politicians, researchers and think tanks representatives.

The Introductory keynote speech was given by Professor Lord Julian Hunt, The Vice Chairman and Director of Globe UK, commenting on the struggles for ambitious climate policies and whether the political parties play a role or not. The presentations continued with Dr Conor Little presenting the methodological features of the project, followed by Prof Robert Ladrech attributing to the comparative perspective of climate policy and political parties and Prof Neil Carter commenting on party politics of climate change in Britain. After the break Dr Stephen Fisher gave a presentation on trends in attitudes towards climate change in the case of Britain. The workshop concluded with Michael Jacobs, Gordon Brown’s Special Adviser on climate change talking about the prospects for international climate agreement in 2015 and its impact on domestic politics.

Upcoming workshop, London

In late January, we will be holding a workshop in London that will bring together researchers and policy practitioners with an interest in the politics of climate change. We will be presenting some findings from our project and we will be hearing from some experienced policymakers. More details to follow. If you are interested in attending, you are welcome to contact us at contact [at] climatepolitics.eu.