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The Political Economy of Climate Change Mitigation Policies: How to Build a Constituency to Address Global Warming?


  • Alain de Serres


  • John Llewellyn

    (Llewellyn Consulting)

  • Preston Llewellyn

    (Llewellyn Consulting)


Developments over the past few years have shown that reforms to address climate change are no less difficult to implement than reforms in other areas, even if the objective of limiting global warming is broadly accepted. In the case of global public goods such as the climate, the political challenge is further complicated by the need to convince voters that domestic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is worth taking, notwithstanding the cost and uncertainties regarding other countries’ commitments. This paper seeks to draw a number of political-economy lessons from reform experience in other economic areas, and considers how these lessons can be applied to the particular case of climate change mitigation policy. It examines the main ingredients for building a constituency for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction policies at home, stressing the need to establish the credibility of the overall objective and intermediate targets. It also reviews the challenges faced in securing successful implementation of the least-cost set of policies, focusing on how to address the concerns raised by the uneven distribution of costs and benefits of pricing instruments without undermining their effectiveness. L'économie politique de l'atténuation du changement climatique : comment assurer un soutien populaire en faveur d'actions pour enrayer le réchauffement planétaire Les discussions des dernières années ont montré que la mise en place de mesures pour atténuer le changement climatique peut s’avérer aussi difficile que la conduite de réformes économiques dans d’autres secteurs, même si l’objectif de limiter le réchauffement de la planète est largement accepté. Dans le cas d’un bien public comme le climat, le défi politique est accentué par la nécessité de convaincre les électeurs du bien fondé de l’action au plan national, malgré les coûts et les incertitudes concernant l’engagement des autres pays. Cette étude vise à tirer certains enseignements de l’expérience en matière de politique économique acquise lors de la mise en place de réformes majeures dans d’autres champs d’action, et à voir dans quelle mesure ces enseignements peuvent s’appliquer au cas particulier de la lutte au changement climatique. Les principaux ingrédients pour assurer un large soutien à des mesures efficaces de réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serres sont passés en revue, de même que les défis que posent leur mise en place, ce qui nécessite de prendre en compte les inquiétudes concernant la distribution inégale des coûts et des bénéfices des instruments de prix en tout évitant de saper leur efficacité.

Suggested Citation

  • Alain de Serres & John Llewellyn & Preston Llewellyn, 2011. "The Political Economy of Climate Change Mitigation Policies: How to Build a Constituency to Address Global Warming?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 887, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:887-en

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    More about this item


    atténuation du changement climatique; carbon tax; climate change mitigation; competitiveness; compétitivité; cost-effectiveness; efficacité par rapport aux coûts; political economy; taxes carbone; économie politique;

    JEL classification:

    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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