Political economy of climate and energy policies in the United Kingdom

Chapter 5 - The Political Economy of Coal


Despite its disastrous climate impact, the use of coal is experiencing a renaissance in many countries. The United Kingdom (UK) is a notable exception: it has assumed a pioneering role by reducing its coal share from 39% of electricity production in 2012 to 1.74% in 2020 and is committing to phase out coal by 2024. What were the political drivers of the transition away from coal? What actors were affected and how did they influence policy formulation and implementation? This chapter applies the Actors, Objectives, Context (AOC) Framework by Jakob et al. (2020) to the UK coal phase-out. A qualitative content analysis is conducted on 22 semi-structured interviews. Three high-level objectives are identified: (1) climate action, (2) low electricity prices and jobs in the power sector, and (3) security of supply. These objectives have shaped the political economy of the UK coal phase-out along with a specific set of contextual factors, resulting in an effective policy mix that allowed for a rapid phase-out of coal.


CoalExit Research Group