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Intergovernmental climate change mitigation policies: theory and outcomes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 May 2014

Hal T. Nelson
Division of Politics and Economics, Claremont Graduate University, USA E-mail:
Adam Rose
Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, USA E-mail:
Dan Wei
Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, USA E-mail:
Thomas Peterson
Center for Climate Strategies, USA E-mail:
Jeffrey Wennberg
Center for Climate Strategies, USA E-mail:


This paper develops a framework for analysing intergovernmental relationships around greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation policies along a cooperation-conflict spectrum that affects the probability of their enactment. Cooperative policies, such as federal fiscal transfers to sub-national governments, facilitate enactment. Coordination policies, including enabling and funding mechanisms, promote interdependence between jurisdictions. Competitive policies, such as federal performance standards and price mechanisms, increase political conflict over authority. We categorise 23 policies developed by over 1,500 state stakeholders into the cooperation/coordination/conflict taxonomy. If scaled to the national level, these policies could reduce GHG emissions by over 3 billion tonnes by 2020 and generate nearly 2.2 million jobs (1.19 per cent above baseline projections). Nearly two-thirds of the job gains are from coordinated and cooperative policy options that are unlikely to occur under the status quo policy process. We recommend a national climate action planning process to reduce GHG emissions while increasing aggregate economic efficiency.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2014 

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