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Climate policy meets national development contexts: Insights from Kenya and Mozambique


Written by Thomas Tanner


Despite the growth in work linking climate change and national level development agendas, there has been limited attention to their political economy. These processes mediate the winners, losers and potential trade-offs between different goals, and the political and institutional factors which enable or inhibit integration across different policy areas.

This paper applies a political economy analysis to case studies on low carbon energy in Kenya and carbon forestry in Mozambique. In examining the intersection of climate and development policy, we demonstrate the critical importance of politics, power and interests when climate-motivated initiatives encounter wider and more complex national policy contexts, which strongly influence the prospects of achieving integrated climate policy and development goals in practice. Four following arguments were advanced:

 First, understanding both the informal nature and historical embeddedness of decision making around key issue areas and resource sectors of relevance to climate change policy is vital to engaging actually existing politics; why actors hold the positions they do and how they make decisions in practice.

Second, we need to understand and engage with the interests, power relations and policy networks that will shape the prospects of realising climate policy goals; acting as barriers in some cases and as vehicles for change in others.

Third, by looking at the ways in which common global drivers have very different impacts upon climate change policy once refracted through national levels institutions and policy processes, it is easier to understand the potential and limits of translating global policy into local practice.

Fourth, climate change and development outcomes, and the associated trade-offs, look very different depending on how they are framed, who frames them and in which actor coalitions. Understanding these can inform the levers of change and power to be navigated, and with whom to engage in order to address climate change and development goals.

Lars Otto Naess, Peter Newell, Andrew Newsham, Jon Phillips, Julian Quan, Thomas Tanner