The need to understand the scope for comparative lesson-drawing on national-level climate mitigation policy has acquired added significance due to the current impasse in international-level governance. Greater policy learning or lesson-drawing among peers at the national level could, to an extent, foster meaningful developments by overcoming generalised international apathy and inaction. In this respect, we analyse the features of one significant example of national climate policy in order to examine the scope for lesson-drawing, thereby setting out a normative research agenda. The UK Climate Change Act 2008 remains one of the few examples of legally enshrined national mitigation legislation and hence provides a relevant, but surprisingly under-researched, source of learning for policy-makers worldwide. By analysing its development, critical features and implementation, this article shows that—despite criticism of the sustainability and implementation effectiveness of the Act—some aspects of the policy could provide lessons for other states, and hence are potentially transferable extraterritorially, although lesson-drawing itself is conditional on contextual constraints.
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Constraints to lesson-drawing or policy transfer are identified in several studies, most notably R. Rose, Learning From Comparative Public Policy, Abingdon, Routledge, 2005; R. Rose, Lesson-drawing in Public Policy, New Jersey, Chatham House, 1993; Dolowitz and Marsh, ‘Who learns what from whom’; D. Benson and A. Jordan, ‘What have we learnt from policy transfer research?’; D. Benson, A. Jordan and D. Huitema, ‘Involving the public in catchment management: an analysis of the scope for learning lessons from abroad’, Environmental Policy and Governance, vol. 22, no. 1, 2012, 42–54; R. Swainson and R. de Loe, ‘The importance of context in relation to policy transfer: a case study of water allocation in Australia’, Environmental Policy and Governance, vol. 21, no. 1, 2011, 58–69.
E. Vance, ‘Mexico passes climate-change law’, Nature, 23 April 2012.