From great moral challenge to coal is good for humanity: examining climate policy drift in Australia : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Research in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 12:44 authored by David John Lisle
This dissertation examines devlopments in Australian climate policy from the election of the Rudd government in 2007, to the Abbott government's announcement in August 2015 of Australia's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to a new Climate Change Agreement. It addresses the drivers of the shift away from climate action that has occurred during the period. The key question it addresses is: to what extent does business power explain this shift? Using a method based on process tracing it presents an original history of climate politics during the period and finds that although the outcome was highly contingent, the power of business - which is conceived in its strructural, institutional and ideological dimensions - remains indispensable in understanding contests over climate governance, and the divide between the science of climate change and the policy response in Australia. This dissertation also offers a refinement to theories of business power. It demonstrates that business power is unwieldy, volatile and readily produces unintended consequences; moreover, the cultural power of business is the source of climate denialism and the polarization that climate change elicits.