Growing calls for ambitious climate change action are challenging for governance because such action can trigger backlash. Why do societies sometimes accept costly public good action, but at other times push back suddenly and reject it? Abrupt and impactful reactions to climate policy actions are increasingly witnessed: Climate Backlash. Examples include the Yellow Vests in France, and acrimonious policy rollbacks in Canada and Australia. Climate change governance theory is, so far, unable to account for such dynamics, which undermines prospects for ambitious climate action. The challenge of BACKLASH is to empirically study, and ultimately to theorise, this type of contentious reaction to policy action. The aim of BACKLASH is to explain why, how, and under which conditions climate backlash emerges in advanced industrial democracies. BACKLASH will: 1) Identify the configurational drivers of climate backlash across varying national contexts, 2) Determine the mechanisms and processes by which climate backlash occurs within specific national contexts, 3) Establish whether and how climate backlash diffuses within and between countries, and 4) Explain the forms (i.e. institutionalised, non-institutionalised) and variation of climate backlash across contexts. To accomplish this, BACKLASH will conduct a two-level study of 36 OECD countries, and 4 in-depth national cases of climate policy, namely Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom. BACKLASH is ground-breaking in: 1) pioneering an original interdisciplinary lens for studying climate backlash, 2) advancing an ambitious mixed-methods research design, and applying and testing new innovations in cross-case analysis, and 3) tackling a new combination of challenging empirical circumstances confronting the field of climate governance with profound implications for policy-society dynamics. This will open up new frontiers for the interdisciplinary study of backlash to policy in addressing contentious collective problems.
Field of science
- /social sciences/sociology/governance
- /natural sciences/earth and related environmental sciences/atmospheric sciences/climatology/climatic changes
Call for proposal
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