Changing Climate

Professor Ian Budge Presents

Kick-starting Government Action against Climate Change: Effective Political Strategies

An academic insight into what policies governments need to adopt to address climate change, and how the populace can organise effectively to take a proactive approach.

Get 20% Off Using Code: FLR40


Kick-starting Government Action against Climate Change: Effective Political Strategies details what policies governments need to adopt and also how campaigners can get them to take on an active role. Demonstrations and discussions are not enough. We need to pressure governments where it really hurts, on votes and taxes. The book shows how to do this by organising effectively. 


Democracies are the key to action on climate. Not only do they include the richest group of countries in the world, who as the major producers and consumers in a globalised setting are capable of exerting enormous pressure on other governments (not to mention military interventions). They also, internally, offer much more latitude for political pressure to be exerted through their guaranteed rights and freedoms. 

A central question is whether Green parties and supporting ecological movements have succeeded in exploiting these to the full in getting their message heard? In spite of local successes, they have not been effective so far in averting the crisis now upon us. This leaves open the question of whether this is a failure on their part or whether the structural constraints inside democracies render it difficult or impossible for them to do so.

We tackle the question by first of all considering how the central democratic processes necessary to make major switches in policy normally work – and whether this eliminates the possibility of any serious advance measures being taken before climate catastrophes provoke panic reactions. Our conclusion is that they do make them difficult. Democracy works well in its own terms. But a) these require time, which we do not have and b) need to gain majority support, since the essence of democracy is to bring public policy into line with popular preferences for it. This again takes more time than we have, even if Green parties and movements were ultimately to be successful in mobilising mass support.

What possibilities then remain for getting governments to act now? Democratic arrangements do leave room for political pressure to be applied in areas to which governments and public are not currently paying attention, even in the face of scientific argument and mass demonstrations. Putting greater pressure on governments also requires that climate activists combine to exploit the many tax-avoidance schemes through which the rich and their multinational companies avoid taxation while turning it to better uses like a minimum income guarantee. To do this however ecological movements need to organise and innovate in the same way as businesses and multinationals. Unlike them they could make extra arrangements to divert money into climate-calming causes, without having negative effects on public services at home.

Governments are crucial in combatting climate change however much we try to do individually.

Only they have the powers to regulate polluting emissions effectively and get others to do so too. Unfortunately, their natural tendency is to prioritise short-term issues like national economic growth. So they have to be pushed into action on climate change, even though it is gearing up right now.

The hurricanes, floods and wildfires of 2020 and 2021 are a concrete sign that a tipping point is being reached when natural processes of carbon dioxide absorption reverse to produce more themselves (forests burning, ice melting, seas heating and flooding. And this is all happening in the 2020s! – not postponed to 2050!

Chapter Titles

Forests Burn, Ice Melts, Seas Surge, Weather Worsens – What Governments Have Done and Not Done

Problems of Collective Action: Policy Making and Enforcement

Dominating Political Discourse

Making Climate the Issue

Strengthening Mass Appeal: Guaranteeing a decent income for all

Organising to expand Democratic Action

Climate Action in Non-Democracies

Climate Action in the World Arena


About The Author

Ian Budge is a political scientist known internationally for his extensive research on governance, political parties and democracy across the world. Due to the urgency of climate change, he has drawn on his professional background to suggest better political strategies for pushing governments into effective action against it, both nationally and internationally.

Active for fifty years as a political scientist, Ian Budge has made major contributions both to cumulative research on democracy and to organizational developments in the discipline. His earliest research on Glasgow and Belfast focused on causes of democratic breakdown. After a middle period studying elections, voting behaviour and party competition he turned to public policy and how it could be made responsive to popular preferences – the central democratic dilemma. His research covers both Direct and Representative Democracy.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Best data Set Award

Best Paper

Latest News

Contact Us

Learn how to incite government action against climate change with effective political strategies.

Get 20% Off Using Code: FLR40