Abstract: Politics is often referred to as the “art of the possible”. But what if injecting a little more science could help shed light on countries’ capacities to bring about policy reforms? The political feasibility of climate policy – rather than technological constraints or economic costs – is now looming as one of the biggest impediments to keeping global warming below 1.5’C. While it is often recognised that certain policies are possible in some contexts and not others, to date there has been limited quantitative or empirical analysis of climate policy feasibility and the extent to which policy ‘feasibility frontiers’ differ across countries.
This talk will introduce new research that aims to empirically characterize the climate policy landscape and quantify the feasibility of introducing specific policies into different country contexts. Drawing on a rich dataset of climate policies introduced across countries over the last 50 years, we explore global patterns in climate policy adoption and identify climate policies that are likely to involve greater political effort than others. We also construct a ‘Climate Policy Space’ network, which helps visualize differences in countries’ climate policy adoption and their evolution through time. Finally, we develop a measure of climate policy alignment and show that it is predictive of future climate policy adoption. While exploring the space of feasible climate policies paints a sobering picture for some countries, having a better understanding of countries’ policymaking realities could help improve the policy design process and increase the probability of successful climate policy implementation in the future.