Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Local Policy Diversity and Climate Change: Understanding Environmental Performance

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 9:10 AM
Gautier (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Mark Stephan, Washington State University, Troy Abel, Western Washington University and Dorothy Daley, University of Kansas
The long-term and large-scale issues stemming from climate change include scientific, technical, social, and political/policy challenges.  In the United States, the political and governance challenges embedded in climate change are perhaps the most daunting. While conventional logic holds that national and international action is needed to address a problem of this magnitude, within the United States, subnational governments have been considerably more active in pursuing climate change mitigation policy compared to their federal counterparts. We take up Elinor Ostrom’s charge to consider polycentric climate governance and evaluate the extent to which decentralized policy regimes improve GHG emission trends. In this paper, we explore different types of subnational policy approaches to minimize GHG emissions in three different sectors: power plants; petroleum and natural gas systems; and municipal and industrial waste. We integrate polycentric theory and the environmental performance dilemma with the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework to better understand when different types of subnational policy arrangements translate into improved environmental performance. We also capitalize on four years of facility-level emission data in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program to explore the link between policy diversity and environmental performance. Specifically, we will test hypotheses with multilevel statistical models (facilities nested within localities, nested within states) that explore: (1) policy diversity; (2) multilevel institutional nesting; (3) analytic deliberation; and their relation to (4) Greenhouse Gas Emission (GHG) reduction performance. In diverse and complex institutional settings, thousands of industrial facilities and hundreds of subnational US governments are at the forefront of American climate risk governance. Our paper seeks to understand the ways in which varied and complex subnational governance arrangements affect GHG emission trends in three important industrial sectors. We have collected GHG emission data for all years across all three sectors.  Additionally, we have merged this facility level information with an array of existing secondary data characterizing the range of climate policy approaches and tools used by subnational governments in the United States.