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

Panel Paper: Policy Narratives: An Analysis of Climate and Air Issues in Delhi, India

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 10:55 AM
Board Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Daniel Paul Costie, University of Colorado - Denver
In a democratic society, public narratives influence policy decisions. Narratives are a powerful tool for expressing opinions, framing debates, and guiding behavior. How authors frame air and climate narratives has implications for urban planning, particularly in the areas of transportation, energy, and sustainable development. Through their construction of narratives, authors become active policy actors. This paper utilizes the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) to uncover the perceptions and priorities of those policy actors involved in air and climate issues in Delhi, India based on publically consumable documents posted online between 2012 and 2014. Delhi is one of the largest urban areas in the world and faces some of the most pressing environmental policy concerns.  Informal interviews were conducted prior to the study to inform the research and in-depth interviews were conducted after the study to triangulate the findings. The NPF has been applied numerous times to environmental policy but it has not yet examined issues related to air and climate issues in an urban environment. The authors captured in this research represent local and national government, international and domestic NGOs, and industry. Results indicate that there is variance among policy actors in how they frame issues surrounding climate policy and how those actors prioritize solutions. In general, policy narratives display an upward trend in hero-heavy stories. Governmental agencies and industry prefer hero-heavy narratives while NGOs tend to rely on villain-heavy narratives. In addition, the salience of air and climate issues depended on the narrative subject with air pollution and transportation narratives dominating the conversation.  In these two settings, authors framed air pollution narratives as hero-heavy throughout the three-year period while transportation narratives exhibit a gradual trend from villain-heavy in 2012 to moderately hero-heavy in 2014.  This paper contributes to the ongoing theoretical development of the NPF by applying a network-based approach to understanding the interactions between the stakeholders impacted by a policy issue. Empirically, this paper articulates the perceptions and priorities of the authors involved and identifies the settings through which these authors tell their stories about air and climate issues in Delhi, India.