Louise Michelle Fitzgerald
Geography Department, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Sheffield, UK
Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK / Department for Institutional Change and Regional Public Goods, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space, Germany
Abstract: In 2019, Ireland declared a ‘Climate Emergency,’ receiving plaudits from across the political spectrum for doing so. Some argued the country was experiencing an era of ‘new climate politics’: In 2017, Ireland had established the first Citizens’ Assembly on Climate, and in 2019 its Parliament debated a Climate Emergency Measures Bill, which was ground-breaking in its proposal to ban offshore oil and gas exploration. Yet, despite majority support for this Bill in Parliament, the minority Government blocked the legislation by refusing to grant a ‘Money Message,’ a potential veto activated following indication by an independent actor that a Bill would require the appropriation of public money. We introduce the concept of ‘policy stifling’ to capture how the Money Message was used to block the Climate Emergency Measures Bill. We conduct detailed process-tracing analysis, building on elite semi-structured interviews with policy makers and campaigners involved in the process. We argue that whilst the Government’s stifling undermined the new era of elite climate politics, it simultaneously boosted an emerging grassroots climate politics movement with the potential for effecting more radical change in the longer term.
Keywords: climate change; climate emergency; depoliticisation; Ireland; policy dismantling; policy stifling; public policy; veto theory