Intergovernmental Relations and Climate Change Policy

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: International Politics


Central Research Question: How do intergovernmental relations affect climate change policy in multi-level systems between 2007 and 2022?

Intergovernmental relations (IGR) could be defined as the relations between different governments within multi-level systems, including the processes and institutions that facilitate intergovernmental interaction. Concerns over climate change have increased in recent years and it is also increasingly recognized that ambitious action is required by all levels of governments to mitigate the most severe consequences and to implement appropriate adaptation measures. As such, climate change policy has gained a more prominent presence within intergovernmental forums. It is thought that IGR has a significant role in explaining climate change policy positions within multilevel states as this policy area is often characterised by a significant degree of overlapping in domestic authority. However, empirical research to support claims on IGR-climate change policy linkages are limited in volume.
My project seeks to explain how IGR effects climate change policy in multilevel states by focusing especially on the role of political parties and constitutional arrangements. Other significant variables include the degree of institutionalisation and the predominant direction of intergovernmental interaction. The project also considers whether the significance of IGR is different for climate change mitigation policies compared to climate change adaptation policies. The majority of research on IGR is concerned with formal relations within federated states. These gaps within the literature will be addressed by systematically analysing both informal and formal IGR, including Intergovernmental Councils (IGCs) and by comparing IGR on climate change policy between federal, quasi federal and devolved unitary states.
The project is designed as a convergent comparative case study, using semi-structured interviews, policy documents, questionnaire data and official statistics. Three cases are selected, each including a policy analysis of the central government and one sub-state government: first, the UK and Welsh governments; second, the Spanish and Catalan governments; and third, the Belgian and Flemish governments. Intergovernmental conflicts are known to be prominent in these cases, thus an important part of the inquiry involves an examination into some of the conditions that have contributed towards a high occurrence of intergovernmental conflict that in turn effects climate change policy. Following the case study chapters the most significant findings will be discussed comparatively and in relation to findings in other literatures. This project will contribute towards the literature of comparative federalism by applying analysis across different constitutional contexts and the empirical findings will also be of relevance to the literatures of multi-level governance and environmental federalism. Policy recommendations for improving practices of IGR for climate change policy and potential areas for further research will be outlined in the conclusion.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2476632 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Llyr Ab Einion