Social network analysis of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan

Ireland’s 2019 Climate Action Plan set out a new policy and governance approach to climate change in Ireland. In a new policy brief, Paul Wagner of Northumbria University and I use social network analysis to analyse the set of relations among the actors involved in the Climate Action Plan as a policy implementation network.

There are 109 actors or organisations named as being either responsible or co-responsible for at least one of the 183 actions detailed in the Climate Action Plan. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland are the two most central actors in the network.

The network has a low density and is highly centralized. Networks with this structure can be effective at meeting their objectives because actors are less likely to inefficiently use time, effort or resources to build and maintain redundant connections.

National level actors are the most central actors in the network. Multi-level implementation of actions is not the norm.

All policy areas addressed in the plan involve actors from more than one sector.

We characterise the network as a network administrative organisation network, governed by the Department of the Taoiseach. The stable structure of this type of network makes it easier to manage the behaviour of network actors and to limit the extent to which they pursue their own interests.

Consideration should be given to enhancing multi-level governance and cross-sectoral collaboration in the network to involve potentially relevant actors not currently included in the network. Particular attention should be paid to developing the policy implementation network for climate change adaptation policy.

The policy brief is available here.