Jakob, M., Flachsland, C., Steckel, J., Urpelainen, J.

Actors, objectives, context: A framework of the political economy of energy and climate policy applied to India, Indonesia, and Vietnam

in Energy Research & Social Science, 03.10.2020

Peer Review , Climate and Development

Devising policies that facilitate a transition to low-carbon energy systems requires a close understanding of the country-specific political economy of energy and climate policy. We develop a generalized AOC (‘Actors, Objectives, Context’) political economy framework to inform and enable comparison of country-specific case studies of how economic structure, political institutions, and the political environment shape policy outcomes. Our actor-centered perspective is built on the assumption that those policies are implemented that best meet the objectives of actors with the greatest influence on policy decisions. Applying the framework in practice includes four basic steps: i) identifying the societal and political actors most relevant for the formulation, implementation and enforcement of energy and climate policies; ii) spelling out these actors’ underlying objectives; iii) assessing the economic, institutional, discursive and environmental context which determines how certain objectives matter for certain societal actors; and iv) analyzing the dynamic interactions among these factors leading to aggregate policy outcomes. Context factors determine how societal actors influence political actors engaged in formal public policy formulation, implementation and enforcement, and how the dynamic interplay of different political actors’ interests results in energy and climate policy outcomes. The framework can accommodate a wide range of theoretical perspectives. We illustrate how the framework enables conducting comparable energy and climate policy country case studies, using the example of coal use in India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Finally, we discuss how the framework can contribute to the identification of entry points that could bring about policy change.