Research shows fractured lawmaking hurts renewable energy
Research by two University of Connecticut professors found that countries with a less complicated and combative lawmaking process did better in promoting renewable energy usage than complex and politically fracture countries.
“(Renewable energy) is a very complex issue,” political science professor, Oksan Bayulgen said.
Although certain countries are better at producing renewable energy than others for many technical reasons, such as market dynamics and natural resources, she believes that government policy does make a difference, Bayulgen said.
“And it is not just me saying this,” Bayulgen said. “(A) lot of experts (and) institutions say the same thing.”
There are many different types of policies that can help to promote renewable energy usage. But instead of focusing on specific policies and their effects, Bayulgen said she was interested in why certain countries were better at creating renewable energy policies than others.
Along with UConn political science professor Jeffrey Ladewig, Bayulgen wanted to know if a country’s lawmaking process had an effect on how renewable energy was used, according to the two professors’ research paper titled “Vetoing the future: political constraints and renewable energy.
Specifically, Bayulgen and Ladewig were interested in whether a country’s lawmaking system and the political landscape of the legislature impacted renewable energy usage, according to their paper.
Bayulgen and Ladewig reasoned that there are these individuals, groups, and institutions in lawmaking, called veto players, whose support is needed to bring about any kind of change in law and policy, according to the research paper.
The more levels of political constraints there are in policy making, the more veto players there are, which makes it harder to change the status quo, according to the paper.
The idea of veto players and political constraints are backed up by literature in political economy, Bayulgen said.
Based off of these concepts, Bayulgen and Ladewig theorized that higher levels of political constraint, such as divisive politics and a having a multiple different legislative institutions, would make renewable energy progress harder than it would be in less politically constrained countries, according to the research paper.
Bayulgen and Ladewig compared “political constraint” to the percentage of electricity production from renewable resources of 125 countries over the course of four decades, according to the paper.
Bayulgen and Ladewig found that indeed countries with fewer political constraints had better progress in renewable energy usage than those countries with more divisive politics and lawmaking institutions, according to the article.
“There is a long tradition of looking at veto players in various policy areas,” Bayulgen said. “Based on that, having a high number of veto players and having high political constraints inhibiting change and progress on policy makes sense, intuitively and theoretically.”
Progress in renewable energy faces structural and market barriers. That does not, however, discount the impact of policy, such as subsidization of fossil fuels Bayulgen said.
“It is not just long term markets or infrastructure favoring fossil fuels,” Bayulgen said. “It is active governments policy in many countries that promote fossil fuels. So how does renewable energy compete against that?”
Today’s political environment in the United States is a good example of that, Bayulgen said.