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Constructing a 'representative claim' for action on climate change: Evidence from interviews with politicians

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>6/02/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Political Studies
<mark>State</mark>E-pub ahead of print
Early online date6/02/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

At the 2015 Paris Summit, global leaders agreed a strategy to tackle climate change. Under the agreement, each country must prepare a national plan. What challenges does this pose for politicians? How do they reconcile their representative role with understandings of climate change, and measures required to address it? This paper analyses interviews with UK politicians, through the framework of the ‘representative claim’ developed by Michael Saward, seeing representation as a dynamic interaction between politicians and those they claim to represent. Thus politicians need to construct a ‘representative claim’ to justify action on climate. Four different types of claims are identified: a ‘cosmopolitan’
claim; a ‘local prevention’ claim; a ‘co-benefits’ claim and a ‘surrogate’ claim. The analysis shows that it is not straightforward for a politician to argue that action is in the interests of their electorate, and that climate advocates need to support efforts to construct and defend claims.