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National climate institutions complement targets and policies

Dubash, Navroz K., Pillai, Aditya Valiathan, Flachsland, Christian, Harrison, Kathryn, Hochstetler, Kathryn ORCID: 0000-0003-2960-058X, Lockwood, Matthew, MacNeil, Robert, Mildenberger, Matto, Paterson, Matthew, Teng, Fei and Tyler, Emily (2021) National climate institutions complement targets and policies. Science, 374 (6568). 690 - 693. ISSN 0036-8075

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Identification Number: 10.1126/science.abm1157


Discussions about climate mitigation tend to focus on the ambition of emission reduction targets or the prevalence, design, and stringency of climate policies. However, targets are more likely to translate to near-term action when backed by institutional machinery that guides policy development and implementation. Institutions also mediate the political interests that are often barriers to implementing targets and policies. Yet the study of domestic climate institutions is in its infancy, compared with the study of targets and policies. Existing governance literatures document the spread of climate laws (1, 2) and how climate policy-making depends on domestic political institutions (3–5). Yet these literatures shed less light on how states organize themselves internally to address climate change. To address this question, drawing on empirical case material summarized in table S1, we propose a systematic framework for the study of climate institutions. We lay out definitional categories for climate institutions, analyze how states address three core climate governance challenges—coordination, building consensus, and strategy development—and draw attention to how institutions and national political contexts influence and shape each other. Acontextual “best practice” notions of climate institutions are less useful than an understanding of how institutions evolve over time through interaction with national politics.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2021 14:57
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2021 09:18

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