Policy Integration, Coherence and Governance

The research tasks of the project

  • To assess the degree of climate policy integration in different countries, policy sectors and in some cases regions and municipalities and to determine key coherence problems between climate change policies and other policies at different levels.
  • To suggest means to enhance climate policy integration and improve policy coherence, within the context of multi-level governance.
  • To further develop concepts and methods by which policy integration, coherence and governance can be studied.

Approach and methods

This study is based on several case studies at different levels of governance. The separately published country studies focus on Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. In each country, several policies are examined, focusing on one or two policies in particular. In addition, some regions and municipalities are examined in detail. The study is based on the view that analysing and comparing experiences over time and across sectors and countries is beneficial and instructive. However, oversimplified, straightforward comparisons can be seriously misleading. It is essential, therefore, that case specific characteristics are fully taken into account. By undertaking broad comparative studies with in-depth involvement by researchers with national knowledge and different disciplinary backgrounds, it is possible to maintain a country- and context-specific understanding. At the same time, all of the new perspectives that emerge as a result of comparison using common concepts and questions can be introduced. This is the obvious added value of a network such as PEER undertaking studies such as this one.

Some examples of the main results

If climate change is to be tackled, significant changes in production processes as well as in consumption patterns will be required. Climate-specific measures such as emissions trading will not achieve these transformations without coherent support from other policies. Industry, energy producers or transport companies may take action as a result of climate policies but they are usually influenced to a greater extent by policies which are not climate-related. The degree to which climate change issues are considered and integrated into tax policies, transportation policies, land use planning, etc. is therefore crucial for an effective climate policy. Climate change has a more prominent role in governmental programmes than ever before, and it is no longer delegated to just one minister, one ministry or a few institutions. It has become a matter for prime ministers, whole cabinets and entire administrations. Climate change is no longer seen purely as an expensive problem which entails job losses; increasingly, it is being reframed as an opportunity for innovation, new markets and enterprises. The most recent climate strategies of many European countries recognise the need for, and are built on, climate policy integration to a much greater extent than was previously the case. In addition, cities and municipalities have made climate commitments which are often more ambitious than commitments made at a national level.

There is a clear political opportunity to address climate change more broadly than ever before. In order to make the most of this opportunity, however, it is absolutely essential that climate change be integrated into decision making on issues such as energy security and taken into account in the responses to the economic recession. Furthermore, since strategies and programmes seldom shape societies and transform economies on their own, successful climate policy integration requires:

  • more integration of climate policy aims in specific policy instruments;
  • full recognition of the multi-level governance nature of climate policy;
  • the ability to handle controversies; and
  • more emphasis on policy evaluation and assessments of climate impacts.

Time schedule

The project started with a first workshop in Helsinki, March 11, 2008, and it was finalised at the end of 2008.

Final report

The final report is available for download at the Publications page. The final report is largely based on the following country studies:

Research team

Project leader: Per Mickwitz, SYKE








  • Silke Beck
  • Christian Kuhlicke
  • Christoph Goerg