Matto Mildenberger. 2020. Carbon Captured: How Labor and Business Control Climate Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Climate change threatens the planet, and yet policy responses have varied widely across nations. Some countries have undertaken ambitious programs to stave off climate disaster, others have done little, and still others have passed policies that were later rolled back. In Carbon Captured, I offer a new theory to explain cross-national differences in climate reform timing and content.

I begin by examining the distribution of climate policy preferences among major economic and political actors. I show how the climate threat’s emergence revealed cross-cutting divisions within existing political and economic coalitions. Climate change divided workers in carbon-dependent industrial unions from workers in low-carbon sectors. It divided carbon-intensive businesses from businesses with small carbon footprints. And it split political actors on both the left and right with divergent ties to these divided labor and capital constituencies. The subsequent dispersion of carbon polluters’ political allies compounded status quo biases in public policymaking; it ensured that, no matter who controlled government, carbon polluters were accommodated in policy design. I argue that this double representation of carbon polluters is the single most important feature of climate policy conflict across advanced economies.

I show how this preference distribution interacts with domestic political institutions to explain variation in policy outcomes. Domestic institutions can either enhance or moderate the double representation of carbon polluters by structuring polluter access to climate policy design. This access is shaped by policymaking institutions, such as institutional links between economic stakeholders and government policymakers. It is also shaped by political organizations, for instance through historical links between labor unions and political parties. I describe how these institutional conditions shape policy enactment pathways and, consequently, policy timing and content. Understanding how national institutions and carbon polluters' double representation interacted to shape these pathways helps explain cross-national differences in climate policy timing and content. It sheds new light on why climate reform opposition remains entrenched in many advanced economies. And it helps us understand if—and when—advanced economies will confront the civilizational threat of climate change.


Stephen Clarkson and Matto Mildenberger. 2011. Dependent America? How Canada and Mexico Construct US Power.  Toronto, ON and Washington, DC: University of Toronto Press and Woodrow Wilson Center International Press 

Policymakers in Canada and Mexico are often preoccupied with their national dependence on the United States - but the United States’ North American neighbours also make important contributions to US wealth, security, and global power.

In Dependent America?, Stephen Clarkson and I explore the dynamics of North American power relations. We document how Canada and Mexico offer the United States open markets for its investments and exports, massive flows of skilled and unskilled labour, and vast resource inputs—all of which boost its size and competitiveness. These countries are also the United States’ most important allies in supporting its anti-terrorist and anti-narcotics security agenda. Finally, we explain the paradox of Mexico and Canada’s simultaneous importance and powerlessness by showing how the U.S. government has systematically developed institutions to constrain their potential influence.