Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
ItemConvergent evolution: framework climate legislation in AustraliaChristoff, P ; Eckersley, R (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021-09-24)Australia is a well-known climate laggard with a history of political conflict over climate policy and the dubious distinction of being the only country to repeal a national emissions trading scheme (ETS). This article examines the puzzle of why four subnational governments in Australia’s federation succeeded in enacting durable framework climate legislation based on a model that came to be widely regarded as ‘best-practice’. We show that in 2007 South Australia was the first jurisdiction in the world to enact framework climate legislation with a 2050 emissions reduction target and an independent expert advisory committee to provide guidance on the implementation of interim targets. We show that this local legislative innovation set off a process of political learning, policy transfer and a virtuous political competition among like-minded Labour and Labour-Green governments at the subnational level. We call this ‘convergent evolution’ insofar as the legislative innovation and diffusion over the period 2007–2015 was similar to, but occurred independently of, the UK Climate Change Act 2008 and the diffusion of this model elsewhere in Europe. Common to all cases was a strong commitment by the premier and/or the relevant minister to pursue a decarbonisation strategy via targets, and reliance on sources of advice for legislative reform that were professionally and/or politically committed to climate action rather than from vested industry groups. More generally, we argue that framework climate legislation carries lower political risks than an ETS because it does not draw attention to the upfront costs of action. The diffusion of subnational climate change legislation, accompanied by renewable energy promotion, has helped to limit the impacts of Australian national climate policy failure while also providing a springboard for renewed climate legislative momentum at the national level.