Towards a Policy Analysis Approach for Addressing the Super Wicked Problem of Climate Change

Friday, February 14, 2014 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Prince George
Most policy-relevant work on climate change in the social sciences either analyzes costs and benefits of particular policy options against important but often narrow sets of objectives, or attempts to explain past successes or failures.  This talk builds on work proposing an “applied forward reasoning” approach for proposing and evaluating policy options to address climate change as a “super wicked” problem. This conceptualization of climate change identifies four key features that require explicit attention by policy analysts: time is running out; those who cause the problem also seek to provide a solution; the central authority needed to address it is weak or non-existent; and, partly as a result, policy responses discount the future irrationally. To address these features, the talk argues that greater attention must be given to the generation of path dependent policy interventions that can “constrain our future collective selves.”  It reviews three diagnostic questions that are meant to orient policy analysis towards understanding how to trigger “sticky” interventions that entrench support over time while expanding the populations they cover. Drawing especially from the literature on path dependency, but inverting it to develop policy responses going forward, the talk will illustrate the plausibility of the framework and discuss further research aimed to examine the applicability of the approach.

Contact Information

Dr. Allan Costello,  250.960.5658
Dr. Philippe Henry, 250.960.5424

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