Instilling climate policy with stability has emerged as a central concern in both the academic literature and societal discourse around climate change. Societal actors have called for stable climate policy to enable low-carbon investment; decisionmakers have sought to provide credible signals; and scholars have developed insights to inform “stickier” instrument design. However, given the sources of instability confronting climate policy and the transformative changes entailed by decarbonization, this paper argues that climate policy stability may not only be unattainable but also undesirable. Instead of striving for stability as an overriding feature of climate policy, we suggest attending to a broader aim: stabilizing the overarching orientation of climate policy as a transition towards a low greenhouse gas emission economy. We review the complementary concepts of path dependence, policy feedback, and transition pathways to distill strategies that may help in addressing this aim.

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Energy Research and Social Science
School of Public Policy and Administration

Rosenbloom, D. (Daniel), Meadowcroft, J, & Cashore, B. (Benjamin). (2019). Stability and climate policy? Harnessing insights on path dependence, policy feedback, and transition pathways. Energy Research and Social Science (Vol. 50, pp. 168–178). doi:10.1016/j.erss.2018.12.009