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Prospects for Capacity-building for Environmental Policy under Austerity: A Comparative Study of Greece and the UK

John Karamichas

The global economic crisis caused an immense blow to the countries of the former European Union (EU) periphery, the countries of the European south and the Republic of Ireland, with immense repercussions to the living standards of the populations in these countries. Although particular attention was paid to the problems of these countries, the severity of the crisis was also felt in the core countries of the global economy; G8 countries like the USA and the UK. In times of financial instability and uncertainty, environmental concern is likely to be downgraded among the issue priorities of the general citizenry. By extension, that concern appears to enter into an interdependent relationship to many environmental policy and governance parameters. By employing this rationale, this paper uses environmental concern as a centrifugal separator and embarks upon a comparative investigation of capacity-building for environmental policy in Greece and the UK. To aid this investigation, we identify key landmarks where the environmental issue entered the capacity-building debate in each country and then proceed to examine how that faired in relation to certain environmental sustainability indicators under the austerity context. We conclude by suggesting that, irrespective of their different pre-austerity status, both countries have entered a downward spiral where economic growth has been completely disengaged from environmental parameters.

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