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Institutional strength, intergovernmental relations, and national climate policy coordination: Australia and Canada compared

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Abstract

The nature of climate change is such that no one state can solve the problem by itself, nor is any one state likely to incur the costs of emission mitigation without some assurance of comparable action by others (Olson 1965; Hardin 1968). This same dynamic is replicated in federal states: How can one attain joint objectives and coordinated actions from autonomous yet interdependent jurisdictions in the face of considerable incentives to defect? As of 2013, Canada has been unable to reach agreement on national objectives, policy mechanisms, or the allocation of costs between sources and Canadian provinces and has relied instead on uncoordinated, unilateral actions by the federal government and provinces. By contrast, in 2011 Australian jurisdictions agreed upon a coordinated plan, including national strategies and objectives on renewable energy, energy efficiency, adaptation and mitigation. How do we explain Australian success in achieving coordination, in contrast to Canadian failure over the same time period? While differences in political culture, geography, political economy and political leadership no doubt play a part, we suggest that the institutions of intergovernmental relations (IGR) in each country have had a significant effect on efforts to coordinate. Our objective is to explore whether there are meaningful differences in the institutions of IGR that create permissive or constraining conditions in these two countries.

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... Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol only because it was granted a very weak mitigation target that allowed it to de facto increase its emissions (see http://theconversation.com/australia-hit-its-kyoto-target-but-itwas-more-a-three-inch-putt-than-a-hole-in-one-44731 (accessed 18 January 2015)). For the positive effects of federalism in Canada, see Rabe (2007), and for Canada and Australia, see Gordon and Macdonald (2014). 4 For more details on the Austrian case, see Steurer and Clar (2015), for Switzerland see Casado-Asensio and Steurer (2016b introduced jointly negotiated, goal-oriented federalcantonal contracts (called "convention programmes") that usually foresee co-financing (Fischer et al., 2010). ...
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The governance of natural resources used by many individuals in common is an issue of increasing concern to policy analysts. Both state control and privatization of resources have been advocated, but neither the state nor the market have been uniformly successful in solving common pool resource problems. After critiquing the foundations of policy analysis as applied to natural resources, Elinor Ostrom here provides a unique body of empirical data to explore conditions under which common pool resource problems have been satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily solved. Dr Ostrom uses institutional analysis to explore different ways - both successful and unsuccessful - of governing the commons. In contrast to the proposition of the 'tragedy of the commons' argument, common pool problems sometimes are solved by voluntary organizations rather than by a coercive state. Among the cases considered are communal tenure in meadows and forests, irrigation communities and other water rights, and fisheries.
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Australian Intergovernmental Relations and the National Emissions Trading Scheme
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