Over the twentieth century the welfare state emerged as one of the most conspicuous features of the modern polity. Together with a market-mediated economy with concentrated private ownership of the principal productive assets, and political systems with multi-party elections and fairly extensive individual rights, the welfare state helps define the basic character of contemporary developed societies. This article focuses on linkages between climate change and the welfare state. Since welfare states are almost uniquely a feature of developed societies, it ignores all international aspects of climate change, unless they impinge directly or indirectly on the welfare states of the West. In the absence of reliable comparative data, this article uses research findings on the UK. It first describes the characteristics of contemporary welfare states; and then discusses the challenges to the welfare state from climate change. Furthermore it analyses the welfare state in light of the decarbonization imperative.

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Keywords Decarbonization, Developed societies, International aspects, Market-mediated economy, Modern polity, Welfare state
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199566600.003.0033
Gough, I. (Ian), & Meadowcroft, J. (2012). Decarbonizing the Welfare State. In The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199566600.003.0033