Law and Public Policy
Session: D11(b) - Workshop - Environmental Politics: Comparative Environmental Policy
Date: Jun 1, 2017 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: VIC-608 (Victoria Building)| iOS / Outlook
Chair/Président: Hamish Van der Ven (Yale University)
Discussant/Commentateur: Matt Hoffmann (University of Toronto)
Participants & Authors/Auteurs: David Houle
(University of Michigan) : Beyond Storytelling: Measuring Provincial Climate Policy OutputAbstract:
It is now well-established that subnational governments have taken a leadership role in climate policy-making in Canada. However, most studies rely on case-based research focusing only on specific instances of climate policy, neglecting the broader picture of government intervention on climate change. Scholars have instead focused heavily on the most controversial aspects of climate change policy-making including carbon pricing, large-scale energy projects, and emerging issues such as hydraulic fracking. Taken collectively, this literature gives the impression that climate policy implementation is a contested domain of public intervention. Yet, Canadian governments routinely engage in climate policy-making without generating conflict or headlines. To provide a more comprehensive assessment of the Canadian governments climate policy output, this paper presents a survey of provincial actions on climate change—defined as specific instances of the use of policy instruments for reducing emissions or adapting to climate change. In line with recent contributions on the topic, it also proposes indicators to summarize and compare the policy density and policy intensity of provincial climate policy output, discussing the methodological challenges encountered. Overall, the picture that emerges is one of complexity, as provincial governments over the last twenty years have taken hundreds of actions to address climate change using a variety of policy instruments for a diversity of purposes. However, there are also missed opportunities as few of these actions have addressed the issue of adaptation, leaving the Canadian society vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
(University of Calgary) : Interprovincial and Domestic Factors: A Framework for Studying Canadian Provincial Policy Responses to Climate ChangeAbstract:
Between 2006 and 2015, Canadian provinces filled the void of climate change leadership left by the federal government by adopting a range of policies. What is particularly notable about this period is the extent to which interprovincial dynamics had the capacity to influence the policies provinces chose. Due to the lack of a strong federal mandate, provinces had more autonomy to act and more capacity to affect each other’s decisions.
This paper develops a framework for studying provincial responses to climate change that uses interprovincial dynamics, which have typically been given less attention than domestic factors, to explain provincial responses. Interprovincial dynamics can be divided into two factors: competitiveness concerns and policy transfer. Without a single federal policy that was applied across the country, provinces had to be cautious that their actions would not place them at a competitive disadvantage when attracting and retaining economic activity. But some provinces sought to work together and engage in policy transfer by modelling or emulating policies in other jurisdictions. Despite the importance of interprovincial forces, local factors cannot be eliminated from the equation. These can be grouped into three categories: the interests of provinces, the institutions which shape their behaviour and the ideas which condition their choices.
This framework was developed to understand Canadian provincial responses to climate change in a period of low or no federal involvement. However, it is possible that the framework could be used to study other time periods, sub-federal jurisdictions and environmental policy issues.
Paper or Poster / Communication ou Présentation visuelle
(University of Waterloo) : Policy Responses to the Dual Oil/Climate Crisis in Canada’s Petro-Provinces: Circumventing or Entrenching Carbon Capitalism?Abstract:
This paper assesses the ongoing policy responses of Alberta (AB), Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), and Saskatchewan (SK)—Canada’s leading oil producers—to the dual crisis of the recent oil price crash and growing climate change urgency. Given the socio-economic havoc inflicted by the oil price decline since 2014, citizens in all three provinces are now keenly aware of the economic risks of oil dependence. Further, global and national progress (albeit slow) on addressing climate change has lent further legitimacy to provincial governments taking substantive policy action on reducing carbon emissions. This paper asks: are these provinces using this confluence of political pressures to pursue a new economic path, to transition beyond dependence on fossil fuel extraction to a low carbon economy? Or are Canadian petro-provinces responding to the dual crisis in traditional ways that effectively deepen their reliance on oil extraction? Comparing current oil development and emissions policy responses and their anticipated impact, I argue SK and NL ultimately remain committed toward the expansion of the oil sector with limited attention to reducing emissions—the ongoing oil/climate crisis to date has not motivated a policy transition in these cases. Yet recent policy announcements in AB do signal potential for change in Canada’s largest oil producer. The paper offers a framework to explain these policy outcomes, one that emphasizes the political-economic constraints both on subnational resource dependent jurisdictions and on civil society organizations that might be expected to challenge oil extraction.
(Wildfrid Lauier University) : Governance Indicators for Environmental Management in the Great Lakes Transboundary BasinAbstract:
A large and growing interdisciplinary body of scholarship shows that human governance of water systems around the world are not producing successful policy outcomes, despite the existence of long-standing and well-developed institutional architectures - even in transboundary systems with well-established governance institutions such as the Great Lakes basin. Scholarship indicates governance and policy institutions were designed when policy challenges were viewed as less complex, and these governance regimes are increasingly unable to respond to the complexity inherent in water systems or adapt fast enough to address current, let alone emerging water governance challenges. Water Governance Indicators (WGIs) are a powerful way to focus data collection and connect scholarly research to real-world governance challenges, as they can contribute to continuous diagnosis, reflection and improvement in outcomes. In particular, research to date using ‘third order’ water governance indicators has found that knowledge about system conditions and institutional factors, as well as mechanisms for the meaningful engagement of water users and stakeholders are both critical for improving the adaptive capacity of water governance systems. This paper will survey the literature on knowledge attributes and stakeholder engagement, and propose for each a set of governance indicators that can be applied in the Great Lakes transboundary water system.
Panel: Environmental scholars make large contributions to public policy theory, in particular through comparative approaches to understanding convergence and divergence in public policy. For this panel, we welcome papers that use comparisons across time, countries, provinces, or regions to advance our understanding of public policy on the environment, across issue areas.