This article looks at the role that public interest has played in relation to climate change regulatory policy. Government has used the public as a regulatory force to pressure and influence the behaviour of private commercial interest on the issue of climate change. This manipulation by government has taken place under the guise of ‘do it yourself’ measures such as offsetting. The purpose has been to engineer an alignment of government and private interest so that the imposition of legislation mandating reduction in emissions might be easier to implement and justified in the name of a political mandate emanating from public desire for change. The inclusion of the public interest in this policy lends credibility and legitimacy to government initiatives. The process of establishing legislation mandating a reduction in emissions has begun and a compelling issue is whether government after endorsing the application of public pressure onto private interest is willing to allow the public to in turn scrutinise the legitimacy of such direct regulation. These concerns will strike at the heart of the credibility of government’s attempts to centralise regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change policy.
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