New book published - A Short Guide to Environmental Policy

Posted on 13 May 2014

This book is an essential introduction to all those interested in how policies can address environmental problems.

Dr Gary Haq, Senior Research Associate here at the Stockholm Environment Institute at York and Dr Carolyn Snell, Lecturer in Social Policy (SPSW) at the University of York and formerly of SEI, have just published “The Short Guide to Environmental Policy”, published by Policy Press. 

Book by Gary Haq Short guide to environmental policy

‌The guide provides a concise introduction to post-war environmental policies, bringing together perspectives from a range of fields including economics, sociology, politics and social policy. It covers a broad range of issues, including causes and effects of contemporary environmental issues, policy approaches to addressing environmental problems, challenges to implementing environmental policies and future environmental challenges.

You can read more about the book and purchase it here:

Gary Haq gives more details about the book in this short Q and A

What was the motivation to writing the guide?

Environmental policy is becoming increasingly important as society exceeds natural planetary boundaries. Few single texts currently exist that take a holistic approach to the key challenges for environmental policy. The Guide aims to fill the gap and provides an introduction to anyone interested in the development of post-war environmental policy.

Who is it aimed at?

The Guide is particularly aimed at students from diverse academic backgrounds who wish to study the subject. As well as anyone who wants a brief introduction to the key challenges for environmental policy today.

 Which environmental policies have been successful?

Successful environmental policies have included the UN Montréal Protocol on ozone depleting substances, which is has been successful in preventing further damage to the ozone layer and the convention on long-range transboundary air pollution, which reduced acid rain.  As well as national policies to address air and water pollution in the USA and UK, which have significantly improved human wellbeing in once extremely polluted industrial cities.  While such issues have improved the have not gone away, we still face a number of challenges with regard to air and water pollution.  

What are the ingredients of an effective environmental policy?

Traditionally, environmental policy has had to compete with social and economic objectives. While sustainable development has provided the paradigm to demonstrate that all three are equally important, this has not always been translated into practice.

In order to effectively address environmental problems through policy, we need to balance social, economic and environmental objectives; address uncertainty, risk and the negative impacts of policies as well as the scale of the problem and the solution.

What are the key barriers?

Potential barriers to effective environmental policy challenges  is the lack of political will to make difficult changes with short-term costs, and a lack of public acceptance that such changes are necessary.

If we are to address future environmental challenges we will require more flexible and adaptive global and national governance frameworks. This will require a redefinition of wealth and prosperity, taking into account the impact of consuming limited and non-renewable resources.

You recently wrote a book looking back at the post-war environmentalism, do you see the guide as complementing this?   

Many environmental policies would not have been adopted without the pressure from the green movement. Environmental pressures groups have promoted a way of speaking and thinking about the environment that was not possible or imaginable decades ago. Today, green issues are a feature of the modern world that that everyone now recognises.

Yet despite many achievements the green movement has failed to win the hearts and minds of a large part of the electorate. The urgency of reducing greenhouse gases, the slow progress made in achieving a binding international climate change agreement, the style of campaigning and the rise in climate scepticism have caused fractions within the green movement.

The book Environmentalism Since 1945 complements the Short Guide to Environmental Policy as it examines the greening of politics, science, economics and culture in the post-war period, which have influenced the development of environmental policy.

The short guide to environmental policy


Carolyn Snell, Gary Haq


Paperback, 216 pages, 198 x 129 mm




16 Apr 2014

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Book by Gary Haq Short guide to environmental policy

The short guide to environmental policy

Author/Editor(s): Carolyn Snell, Gary Haq

Format: Paperback, 216 pages, 198 x 129 mm

ISBN 9781447307174

Published: 16 Apr 2014

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