The presidential politics of climate discourse: energy frames, policy, and political tactics from the 2016 Primaries in the United States

Brown, George and Sovacool, Benjamin K (2017) The presidential politics of climate discourse: energy frames, policy, and political tactics from the 2016 Primaries in the United States. Energy Policy, 111. pp. 127-136. ISSN 0301-4215 (Accepted)

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Abstract

his study presents the results of an investigation into the frequency in which four candidates of the 2016 United States Presidential Primary season communicated their political positions on climate change, and how they subsequently framed these stances in numerous contextual drivers alongside energy policies. A systematic content analysis of political debates, campaign speeches, and press statements reveals how Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz undertook in vote-seeking behaviour to create distinct stances on energy and climate issues. Results indicate not only partisan polarization, but also that stakeholder dynamics, control of communications and communication frequency are inter-dependent and reinforcing in generating differing climate positions. Institutional dynamics exacerbate these ‘logic schisms’ rather than providing a means of collective decision making. We test such climate discourse according to a typology of scientific, economic, national security, and moral frames. We also assess how particular frames morph over time, and are impacted by exogenous factors such as global climate change negotiations, national environmental crises (such as the Flint Water Crisis), and contestation over stranded assets and fossil fuel divestment. We find that political climate discourse must communicate to collective, bipartisan interests whilst avoiding politically divisive climate frames.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Nora Blascsok
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2017 08:43
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2017 08:43
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/70346

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