Debates concerning policies to address climate change shifted swiftly and dramatically in the United States over recent years. As late as the fall of 2009, environmental NGOs and other interest groups were actively campaigning toward passage by the U.S. Congress of “cap-and-trade” legislation to regulate greenhouse gases. The scene changed dramatically in the succeeding period of less than two years. By early 2011, action to address climate change had stalled, and the issue was characterized by polarized partisan positioning. This would appear to be a case in which basic claims, assumptions and accumulated learning in this policy arena were being rejected, and where an increasing divergence and polarization of views had become crystallized.
This research will examine the manner and extent to which interest groups altered their activities aimed at achieving societal action to respond to climate change in response to these changed political circumstances, including their choice of tactics, framings of the issue, claims-making and argumentation styles. Theoretical approaches to be employed may include frame analysis, discourse coalitions, and interpretive policy analysis.