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[en] This article examines the impact of imprecise terminology on the energy policymaking process in US, focusing on the manipulation of discourse by different political–economic interests seeking to sway popular opinion. Using the 2012 US Presidential Elections as a backdrop, the analysis highlights the cooption of the concepts “security,” “independence,” and “sustainability” in energy debates by different and often opposing interest groups. The article’s first section traces the malleability of energy terminology to the vagueness of the term “energy” itself and notes how qualifying words like security, independence, and sustainability have been selectively exploited to introduce further ambiguity to an already fungible concept. The second section notes that while energy is a critical and complex factor of macroeconomic production, its main public visibility comes via a few partially representative numbers, like gasoline prices. This mismatch of broad social importance and piecemeal public understanding enables organized interests to leverage vague terminology in support of particular policy ideas. The third section examines three policymaking tools (1) taxation, (2) regulation, and (3) technology promotion and compares these administrative instruments. Ultimately, the article concludes that loosely defined terminology inhibits energy policy discussion and stifles meaningful public debate over and action on energy issues. - Highlights: ► This article examines the impact of imprecise terminology on US energy policymaking. ► Energy security, energy independence, and sustainability are vaguely defined terms. ► Coordinated interests manipulate debate and exploit public ignorance. ► Taxes, regulation, and innovation incentives are used to apply policy prescriptions. ► Vague terminology stifles meaningful public debate over energy policy.
[en] Drawing on two conflicting hypotheses from the theoretical literature on lobbying, I consider the strategies applied by interest groups lobbying to influence climate policy in the European Union (EU). The first hypothesis claims that interest groups lobby their 'friends', decision-makers with positions similar to their own. The second claims that interest groups lobby their 'foes', decision-makers with positions opposed to their own. Using interviews with lobbyists and decision-makers, I demonstrate that in the field of climate policy, interest groups in the EU lobby both friends and foes, but under different conditions. Moreover, I find that the interest groups' motives are not always in line with the theoretical hypotheses. Interest groups lobby their friends on single policy decisions to exchange information, to further a common cause and to exert pressure, and their foes because a foe on one issue might prove to be a friend on another issue. Interest groups direct general lobbying towards both friends and foes. This paper provides a new empirical contribution to a literature that has so far been heavily dominated by studies focusing on lobbying in the US
[en] Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of energy, renewable and environmentally benign during running. Yet environmental activitism has obstructed hydrodevelopment throughout the world, and more so in India. The paper calls for a realistic economic-environmental trade-off and improvements in environmental decision making apparatus. (author)
[en] An argument of those supporting the direct election of regulators is that election allows voter preferences to be translated easily into policy outcomes. However, a danger of this approach is that the low salience of regulatory issues among the median voter could allow for regulatory capture, where regulated firms use their influence to extract favorable outcomes. Although the role that institutional design plays in influencing capture has been evaluated by comparing appointed and elected regulators, evidence of the capture of elected regulators remains scant, and we know little about the conditions that may mitigate such capture. Here, we study electricity rate-making by Arizona's elected public utilities commission to determine how the economy, citizen complaints, and industry and interest group lobbying affect rate decisions. Leveraging original quantitative and interview data, we find that commissioners respond to voters and set pro-consumer electricity prices when inflation rises and when citizen complaints increase. We do not find that industry and interest group lobbying influence rate-making. We argue that commissioners are pro-behavior because prices are salient, and commissioners desire reelection. The result suggests that the electoral mechanism reduces chances of regulatory capture, although the matter of electoral pandering remains unresolved.
[en] Highlights: • Researchers derived importance weights for eight components of federal-energy-policies. • Researchers found the most important component was impact on environmental quality. • Researchers did a similar study in eight states with active energy-policy discussions. • The most important energy policies across the states related to the environment and energy costs. • Analysis disclosed citizens’ pronounced risk-aversion for negative policy changes. - Abstract: Without knowledge of citizen preferences, policy makers most often rely on their intuition to infer such preferences or on biased information provided by special interest groups. Using a choice-modeling approach, the study features two large-scale, field-research projects—one done nationally in the US, and another composed of separate data collection efforts across eight states where energy policies have a high profile in public discourse. The results suggest four outcomes of energy policies are most important to citizens at the national level: 1) environmental quality, 2) energy costs, 3) job creation, and 4) greenhouse gas emissions. This pattern of importance for the outcomes of energy policy persists across important demographic groups including those related to political-party affiliation. At the state level, the four preferred outcomes of energy policies seen at the national level also appear—although in a different order of preference in some states. Further analysis of citizens’ willingness to change energy policy at the state level suggests that risk aversion characterizes citizens’ views about revising energy policy.
[en] Typically, conflicts in world environmental negotiations are related, amongst other aspects, to the level of polarization of the countries in groups with conflicting interests. Given the predictable relationship between polarization and conflict, it would seem logical to evaluate the degree to which the distribution of countries – for example, in terms of their CO2 emissions per capita – would be structured through groups which in themselves are antagonistic, as well as their evolution over time. This paper takes the concept of polarization to explore this distribution for the period 1992–2010, looking at different analytic approaches related to the concept. Specifically, it makes a comparative evaluation of the results associated with endogenous multi-polarization measures (i.e. EGR and DER indices), exogenous measures (i.e. Z–K or multidimensional index) and strict bipolarization measures (i.e. Wolfson’s measure). Indeed, the interest lies not only in evaluating the global situation of polarization by comparing the different approaches and their temporal patterns, but also in examining the explanatory capacity of the different proxy groups used as a possible reference for designing global environmental policy from a group premise. - Highlights: • The world seems to have (multi) polarized typically less in terms of carbon emissions since 1992. • The advance of the within-groups cohesion and the equalization in their size allows some caution. • The division of countries into two endogenous groups appears as relevant. • It would be interesting the simplification through three exogenous income-groups of countries. • It would seem useful to design global negotiating mechanisms based on these types of groups
[en] Highlights: • Russia’s oil sector flares some 12% of its associated petroleum gas. • Interplay of formal and informal institutions is studied to explain exceeding limit. • Exemptions and non-compliance with licenses allow flaring beyond 5% limit. • Informal institutions include unwritten rules, distorting rules, regulatory gaps. • Informal institutions ease coercive pressure put on oil companies by government. - Abstract: The Russian oil sector, crucial to the economy, was obliged to cut its associated petroleum gas flaring to 5% of total supply from 2012. Significant progress has been made since but the target has not been reached. The impact of the weakness of formal and importance of informal institutions on the policy outcome was found to be significant. Not only is far more flaring allowed as a result of exemptions and non-compliance with subsoil licenses but it also remains unclear how much is actually flared due to unclear metering practices and if fines can be avoided or written off without much oversight. Oil sector lobby has advocated many of these informal institutions. Standard type of informal institutions dominates, while also subversive institutions as well as gaps in regulations were identified. Analysing the oil sector interests through new institutionalism shows that the dominance of informal institutions has influenced the behaviour and interests of oil companies, especially in terms of relaxing legitimacy rules on compliance. Also the norm that oil sector activities are prioritized over environmental protection partly explains the relaxed attitude towards informal institutions; the 5% target set is partly ceremonial for the government.
[en] This paper examines policy processes surrounding the rise and fall of the proposed EU-wide policy instrument designed to help achieve the EU's renewable energy targets - the trading of Guarantees of Origin (GO). It discusses its origins and examines factors in the policy processes over time leading first to its development and then to its abandonment. A first analysis looks at the near-term policy-making process before and after the proposal on GO trading in January 2008, focusing on the European policy-making institutions and influences of interest groups and member state governments. It then takes a step back and looks over a longer time period at how competing policy frames have shaped the agendas underlying the debate. Results show how a strong internal market frame acted as a primary driving force in the Commission to promote the GO trading instrument. The rejection of the GO trading proposal in the Council and Parliament can be largely attributed to the lack of a strong lobby in favour of GO, the accumulated experience with and institutionalisation of national RES support policies such as feed-in tariffs, and growing general political concerns for supply security, innovation and competitiveness. (author)
[en] Solar energy is a growing source of electricity supply. Oil companies including BP and Shell recognized this early on and entered the solar industry when it was still in its relative infancy. These companies invested heavily in vertically integrated solar companies that were at one point among the largest in the world. But neither BP nor Shell was successful, and they both decided to exit the solar market. This stands as a paradox since such companies have the funds, the long-term perspectives, the management systems, the multinational presence and the lobbying clout to potentially succeed in this new energy industry. Why were they not successful, and why did they ultimately exit? This paper uses innovation theory to explore the reasons why large incumbent corporations typically fail to succeed in commercializing disruptive innovations at scale. Evidence from semi-structured interviews and discussions with former employees of BP Solar and Shell Solar confirm the explanatory power of key constructs from innovation theory in accounting for the big oil companies' experience with solar technology. Ultimately, the findings suggest that oil companies would have done better to treat their solar businesses as separate stand-alone entities. - Highlights: • This paper examines why BP and Shell were not successful in solar, and exited. • It finds innovation theory to be very helpful in answering the question. • The evidence from semi-structured interviews, press reports, and archival documentation is in line with innovation theory. • Both the theory and the findings offer a different way forward for future oil and gas entrants
[en] Despite the increasing amount of literature available on renewable energy, the empirical analysis about drivers promoting renewables remains scarce. We have analyzed those drivers for European Countries. Over an extended period of time (1990-2006) we used panel data techniques, namely the fixed effects vector decomposition. The results suggest that both the lobby of the traditional energy sources (oil, coal, and natural gas) and CO2 emissions restrain renewable deployment. The objective of reducing energy dependency appears to stimulate renewable energy use. Our results robustly support the EU decision to create a directive promoting the use of renewable sources (Directive 2001/77/EC). We also offer suggestions with regards to the design of appropriate policies towards renewable energy deployment.