Neil Gunningham

Contact details
P: +61 2 6125 1516
Room: 2.35
Building: Coombs Extension, #8

Neil Gunningham has degrees in law and criminology from Sheffield University, UK, is a Barrister and Solicitor (ACT) and holds a PhD from ANU. Although initially trained in law, his subsequent post-graduate work was in interdisciplinary social science, and for the last thirty years he has applied that training principally in the areas of safety, health and environment, with a focus on regulation and governance. He joined RegNet in 2002. Previously he was a Professor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Co-Director of the National Research Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Environmental Law (all at the ANU), Distinguished Research Professor at Cardiff University, and Visiting and Senior Fulbright Scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California, Berkeley.

Neil’s research has been concerned to identify the contribution that broader, innovative forms of regulation can make to safety, health and environmental policy. His work on regulatory mixes and Smart Regulation demonstrates the potential for resources outside the public sector to be harnessed in furtherance of government policy, and how combinations of public and private orderings and can be integrated into an overall optimal regulatory mix. His work on occupational health and safety regulation has focused on the relationship between management systems based approaches, trust and workplace culture. Another research agenda examines how some of the challenges of energy governance might best be addressed to achieve a transition to a low carbon economy.

He has two current research agendas. The first concerns the role of the fossil fuel divestment movement and of Extinction Rebellion in climate change mitigation. These movements are examined through the lenses of the social movements and non-state governance literatures. This research shows that climate policy and governance is not only a top down, state-driven process but bottom up and polycentric. In the latter context, contested normative issues can be as important as instrumental ones.

A second agenda examines the role of financial markets in climate change mitigation and how an ‘energy revolution’ and a rapid transition to a low carbon economy might best be achieved. Conventional analysis emphasises the role of governments in mitigating climate change. However, there is emerging evidence that a very different approach, harnessing financial markets to invest in climate change and involving a range of non-state financial actors could also play a major mitigation role. This research aims to identify the opportunities and impediments to catalyzing such an energy revolution and to identify the governance arrangements that are needed to bring it about.

Neil’s books include: The New Environmental Governance (with Holley and Shearing); Shades of Green: Business, Regulation and Environment (with Kagan and Thornton); and Smart Regulation: Designing Environmental Policy (with Grabosky and Sinclair). He is on the editorial boards of the international journals Law and Policy and Regulation and Governance and an editor of the Environmental and Planning Law Journal. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, a former Fulbright Scholar and consultant to the OECD and UNEP.

Research interests

  • Law and society
  • Social movements and climate policy
  • Environmental regulation
  • Regulation of climate finance

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet