With its emphasis on shared beliefs and the advocacy use of knowledge within policy subsystems, the advocacy coalition framework (ACF) is ideally suited to the study of environmental policy. Yet the ACF has generally been applied in a domestic context. This article argues that the twin phenomena of economic globalization and the internationalization of environmental affairs are blurring the distinction between some policy subsystems and the international arena. Thus, advocacy coalitions should be understood as operating increasingly along "the domestic-foreign frontier." In the case of Canada's efforts to develop a coherent climate change policy, the boundaries between political levels have been blurred as local and provincial actors come to understand themselves as players in a global game. This dynamic is exacerbated by Canada's unique constitutional division of authority, which delegates significant autonomy to the provinces on natural resource and energy issues.
The advocacy coalition framework (ACF) developed by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith usefully moves the study of public policy beyond the traditional and overly mechanical "stages" approach. With its emphasis both on shared beliefs as the glue of politics and on the advocacy use of knowledge and analysis within policy subsystems, the ACF is especially applicable to the study of environmental policy. Yet the ACF has been developed and generally applied within a disciplinary context that views policy formation as an essentially domestic-level process occurring within states. According to the ACF, policy shifts are the result of changes external to the policy subsystem, including "dynamic system events" at the international level (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1993, pp. 22-23). This article argues that the twin phenomena of economic globalization and the internationalization of environmental affairs are blurring the distinction between at least some policy subsystems and the international arena. Consequently, the ACF can be enriched by the recent literature in international relations theory that attempts to grapple with the convergence of domestic and foreign affairs. On that basis, this article contributes to bridge-building between "the two solitudes" (Doern, Pal, & Tomlin, 1996, p. 5)--international relations and policy studies--by examining Canadian climate change policy over the past decade.
In many ways, the dynamics of Canadian climate change policy are ideally suited to this exercise. The advocacy coalitions within the policy subsystem, along with their causal and normative beliefs about climate change, can be mapped out fairly easily. Furthermore, the combination of Canada's unique constitutional division of powers between the federal government and the provinces, and its close ties to its far more powerful and environmentally influential neighbor to the south, mean that global-local linkages, which inevitably obscure the boundary between domestic and foreign affairs, are likely to be particularly evident. Moreover, climate change is by definition an internationalized environmental issue, even though both its causes and effects-- socioeconomic, ecological, and political--are local and regional in character.
Because this case is an easy one for my argument that some advocacy coalitions can be understood as operating "along the domestic-foreign frontier" (Rosenau, 1997), this article should be interpreted more as a heuristic test case and a bridge-building exercise rather than as any attempt to present a conclusive argument for the universal internationalization of the ACF. Nonetheless, the apparently inexorable process of globalization suggests that the number of policy issues requiring an expanded conceptualization of the ACF may be rising. Indeed, Canada's shift from an activist climate change position a decade ago to a more cautious one by 1997 can be explained in part by economic globalization, the effects of which are felt …