Market Environmentalism, New Environmental Policy Instruments, and Climate Policy in the United Kingdom and Germany


Correspondence: School of Geography, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, U.K. PL4 8AA; e-mail:


The search for effective and efficient climate policy has led to a major expansion in the use of market-based instruments and voluntary agreements (New Environmental Policy Instruments [NEPIs]) at national and international levels. Yet, despite the prevalence of these instruments as an outcropping of the broader shift toward neoliberal approaches to environmental policies, tremendous diversity exists in the way signatories to the Kyoto Protocol have deployed NEPIs. Drawing on recent geographical and political science research on the neoliberalization of nature, this article reexamines reasons for geographical variations in market environmentalism and, in particular, the role of national policy styles in refracting neoliberal influence on environmental policy. In so doing, I argue that policy styles are too frequently conceptualized in terms of state processes, overlooking complex and territorialized social relations between regulators and regulated parties. To illustrate this claim, I compare the implementation of climate policy in the United Kingdom and Germany, exploring the effects of national policy styles on NEPI deployment, factors contributing to industry reactions to market-based and voluntary measures, and how national policy styles color these evaluations. This is used to argue that understanding geographical variations in market environmentalism requires greater appreciation of the role of industry groups in the creation, defense, and evolution of national policy styles. I conclude by reflecting on the study's implications for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.