Brooklyn Law Review


Addressing climate change entails daunting policy challenges for nations seeking to decarbonize their energy systems. Current policies are inadequate to achieve the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in major part because of political resistance to more aggressive policies. Academic policy research to date has primarily focused on what policies are economically optimal, or on what is politically feasible in the short-term. But given the long-term nature of the problem and the scale of the policy challenges, an essential question is how to improve the political landscape for aggressive climate policies over time. In this paper we outline a research agenda to answer that question—a dynamic analysis of the political economy of decarbonization. We first summarize existing research indicating that some climate policies may be more helpful in increasing political support for future action. We then identify a range of important issues to address in our research agenda, issues that might affect the political economy of decarbonization. Those issues include the energy resources and economics of a state, the political structure of a state, the energy regulatory system of a state, and the forms of renewable energy development that a state advances. We also identify some important extensions for our research agenda, including how policies may shape social norms around decarbonization and the possibility that policies may lead to counterproductive outcomes.