1st Edition

Climate Clever
How Governments Can Tackle Climate Change (and Still Win Elections)

ISBN 9780415679770
Published March 20, 2012 by Routledge
144 Pages

USD $44.95

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Book Description

Why, despite two decades of climate policy, have affluent democracies made so little progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions? We know that there are ways of doing this that are both practical and affordable. It is politics that is the problem. Stringent climate policies may lead companies to redirect investment elsewhere, or lead voters to retaliate at the ballot box. There are many political obstacles to stronger action.

What can be done? Based on an analysis of the logic of policy making, plus observation of recent developments in climate politics, this book identifies a broad range of political strategies that are available to governments that wish to take more effective action against climate change while avoiding serious political damage. Separate chapters deal with strategies relating to unilateral action, persuasion, political exchange, and changing the terms of political exchange. This is the first book-length study of political strategy and climate change and will be of interest not only to policymakers but also to experts and activists looking to formulate politically realistic policy proposals, and scholars and students of politics and environmental studies.

Table of Contents

1. Getting to Grips with the Problem  2. Just do it  3. Persuasion  4. Political Exchange  5. Changing the terms of Political Exchange  6. The Way Ahead

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Hugh Compston is a Professor of Politics at Cardiff University and has published widely on political economy, public policy and climate politics. Recent books include Policy Networks and Policy Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Climate Change and Political Strategy (edited) (Taylor and Francis, 2010), and Turning Down the Heat: The Politics of Climate Policy in Affluent Democracies (edited with Ian Bailey) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

Ian Bailey is an Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth, specialising in European climate policy. He has published widely on aspects of environmental policy, including a special issue of Area on climate policy implementation (2007), and Turning down the heat: The politics of climate policy in affluent democracies (with Hugh Compston, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). He has advised UK government, the EU and Policy Network on various aspects of climate policy.


Most of the vast swathes of books, articles, or blogs, written on climate change policy proceed on the basis as if politics is irrelevant. But it is politics that will determine whether we decarbonise the economy quickly and deeply enough to avoid disastrous climate change. In Climate Clever, Hugh Compston and Ian Bailey succinctly and powerfully think through the political logic of climate change to give us astrong sense of the sorts of actions politicians can take to reduce emissions without getting booted out of office, and the sorts of actions the rest of us can take to get politicians to move in the right direction.

Matthew Paterson, École d'études politiques, Université d'Ottawa, co-author (with Peter Newell) of Climate capitalism: global warming and the transformation of the global economy


"Essential reading for anyone concerned with the politics of climate change.  The authors show how practical measures to limit carbon impact can be achieved even in the face of public indifference."

Anthony Giddens, former Director of the London School of Economics