Inderscience Publishers

The discursive politics of governing transitions towards sustainability: the UK Carbon Trust

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A growing literature on socio-technical transitions argues that structural change in societal subsystems is necessary to move towards more sustainable societies. Proponents of policy approaches such as 'transition management' have prescribed an important role to governments in such processes, but have so far paid too little attention to the politics of this endeavour. This paper scrutinises the politics of governing the transition to more sustainable energy systems by analysing a particular policy initiative in the UK. The paper finds that discursive struggles between coalitions of actors and the institutional contexts in which these struggles take place constrain as well as enable new policy initiatives. Policy prescriptions of 'transition management' thus need to take into account particular institutional contexts and need to be tied to dominant or emerging discourses to be successful.

Keywords: socio-technical transitions, sustainable energy, Carbon Trust, politics, discourse, Hajer, Schmidt, transition management, sustainability, climate change, transition governance, UK, United Kingdom, sustainable development

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