UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Implementing climate mitigation policy at a subnational level : lessons from British Columbia Ferris, Elizabeth


Owing to the undifferentiated nature of the atmosphere, the theory of collective action predicts that governments at all levels are unlikely to adopt climate policy that reduces emissions before the adoption of a globally accepted and enforced climate agreement. Yet contrary to this prediction, many subnational governments (local, municipal and regional) throughout North America have implemented climate policies that are reducing GHG emissions. Reviewing the literature assessing the implementation of climate policy at a subnational level, this thesis synthesizes a characterization of the factors understood to motivate the development and adoption of climate policy. These factors include (1) economic costs and benefits resulting from climate policy, (2) the existence of political will or an issue champion to further the policy, (3) the support and pressure from public and interest groups, (4) tangible climate impacts that require action, and (5) an institutional structure and capacity that allows for the implementation of mitigation policy. The thesis then analyzes the case of the development and implementation of mitigation policy in British Columbia (BC), Canada, against this characterization. The findings of this analysis suggest that within the BC context, climate policy decision outcomes can be understood to have been influenced by each of the decision factors identified. The study further finds that as contextual factors changed within the province, the prospects for policy longevity were diminished, which suggests that the contextual factors were necessary in achieving climate policy outcomes. The thesis argues that the characterization of motivation factors can be usefully applied to case examples, and that when each of the motivating factors established within the characterization are present, it is possible to implement politically challenging mitigation policy.

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