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Explaining radical policy change: Norwegian climate policy and the ban on cultivating peatlands

Fay Madeleine Farstad, Erlend Andre Tveiten Hermansen, Bård Sødal Grasbekk, Kristiane Brudevoll, Bob van Oort

For decades Norwegian climate policy has largely ignored the agricultural sector and focused on cost-effective emission reductions abroad. Yet in June 2020, Norway decided to ban the cultivation of peatlands to protect critical carbon sinks, and the issue became ‘high politics’. We explain this radical policy change by combining an adapted version of the Multiple Streams framework with the Punctuated Equilibrium model of agenda-setting. We argue that the two models combined can provide a holistic explanatory framework, albeit with two revisions. Firstly, the window of opportunity or punctuation was in our case of a longer duration than both models anticipate. Secondly, we find that multiple complete couplings can take place within the opening of a policy (or more specifically, a decision) window. Both findings can be explained by party competition, thus underlining the need to revise agenda-setting models to better account for party politics.

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