The thorny topic of policy success permeates public policies. In recent years, countries ranging from Australia and Singapore to France, Sweden, Germany, Canada, the US and the UK have debated the successes and failures of public policies, such as Internet censorship, bailing out of banks, welfare cutbacks, privatization of utilities, deployment of troops overseas, removal of ‘at risk’ children from families, public-private infrastructure projects, subsidies to the arts, pollution controls, capital punishment, health and safety in the workplace, classification of certain drugs as illegal, and measures to tackle homelessness. One of the highest profile examples is policies to tackle climate change — epitomizing often polarized debate on whether policy initiatives are succeeding or failing. For example, the US and UK governments portrayed the outcome of the December 2009 Copenhagen summit on climate change as a pragmatic success story, given the complexity of reaching any deal at all. The Chinese authorities likewise perceived the outcome as highly successful in relation to China’s perceived national interests. But other participants viewed it as an abject failure, with Lumumba Di-Aping, chairman of the G77 group of 130 poor countries, going so far as to say it was ‘asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces’ (Guardian 2009).
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