Carbon Captured

From American and Comparative Environmental Policy

Carbon Captured

How Business and Labor Control Climate Politics

By Matto Mildenberger

A comparative examination of domestic climate politics that offers a theory for cross-national differences in domestic climate policymaking.





A comparative examination of domestic climate politics that offers a theory for cross-national differences in domestic climate policymaking.

Climate change threatens the planet, and yet policy responses have varied widely across nations. Some countries have undertaken ambitious programs to stave off climate disaster, others have done little, and still others have passed policies that were later rolled back. In this book, Matto Mildenberger opens the “black box” of domestic climate politics, examining policy making trajectories in several countries and offering a theoretical explanation for national differences in the climate policy process.

Mildenberger introduces the concept of double representation—when carbon polluters enjoy political representation on both the left (through industrial unions fearful of job loss) and the right (through industrial business associations fighting policy costs)—and argues that different climate policy approaches can be explained by the interaction of climate policy preferences and domestic institutions. He illustrates his theory with detailed histories of climate politics in Norway, the United States, and Australia, along with briefer discussions of policies in in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada. He shows that Norway systematically shielded politically connected industrial polluters from costs beginning with its pioneering carbon tax; the United States, after the failure of carbon reduction legislation, finally acted on climate reform through a series of Obama administration executive actions; and Australia's Labor and Green parties enacted an emissions trading scheme, which was subsequently repealed by a conservative Liberal party government. Ultimately, Mildenberger argues for the importance of political considerations in understanding the climate policymaking process and discusses possible future policy directions.


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262538251 368 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 b&w illus.


  • In this brilliant new bookMatto Mildenberger reveals how "double representation" for carbon-energy businesses and workers can create obstacles to effective government action. Developing a powerful theoretical framework, he highlights varied institutional arrangements and dynamics of party politics to investigate why nations respond in different ways to intensification of global warming. A must-read for everyone who cares about climate politics.

    Theda Skocpol

    Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University, and Director, Scholars Strategy Network

  • Matto Mildenberger offers an original and penetrating analysis of why robust climate policy continues to be so difficult politically to adopt and sustain. His theory of 'double representation' involving both industry and labor offers crucial insights, both in looking back at past failures and in contemplating possible next steps.

    Barry Rabe

    J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor, Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

  • Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge for humans to address, but the field of political science has been slow to take up the challenge. In this smart and provocative book, Matto Mildenberger shows that serious climate policy is rooted in how nations frame their interests—and for too long the voice of big carbon has had inordinate influence on both the left and the right. Although written for political scientists who are interested in the comparative politics of climate change, the study also offers practical advice for policymakers and decarbonization advocates to exert a bigger influence in our politics.

    David G. Victor

    Director, International Law and Regulation Laboratory and Professor, the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego