Institutional Innovations i. East Asian Energy a. Low-Carbon Markets
Research Group 3 Institutional Innovations in East Asian Energy and Low-Carbon Markets
Energy serves as the building block of all economies – developed, developing, and emerging economies alike; without it, economic growth is impossible. Yet the inherent tradeoffs in market fundamentals force the public and their representatives in government to struggle with what they value most: energy security, energy efficiency, or the environmental consequences of their preferred energy choices. Once believed to be an unnecessary tradeoff in an age of technological innovation, postwar democracies now find themselves fighting with the developing world over a finite supply of natural resources while politicians debate the challenges of defining and pursuing a sustainable and independent energy future.
In the midst of unstable world oil prices and the rise of unconventional “fracking” techniques in the United States, clarity and foresight into energy policy and sustainable development are now more important than ever. This is true for the Japanese who are reeling from the political economic fallout of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, for the Chinese who seek to free themselves from low-cost coal and its pollution, for the Germans who look for a balance between renewable energy sources and rising electricity prices, and for a growing consortium of world players from Australia to Canada who are concerned with capping world greenhouse gas emissions in the wake of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France.
Understanding the policy process requires knowledge of the goals and perceptions of actors throughout the country involving technical scientific and legal issues over periods of a decade or more while most of the actors are actively seeking to propagate their specific “spin” on events. Given the complexity of the policy process, analysts must find a way of simplifying the situation in order to have any chance of understanding it. This group offers their analyses of one of the least explored, but most fundamental questions facing energy market innovations today: what are the drivers of institutional change, and what can we expect in the future?
The research group is primarily focused on institutional change and energy / low-carbon market innovations within East Asia, in particular China and Japan. Julia Aristova’s PhD work explores the decision-making process at the local level in China whose actors are engaged in the pursuit of low-carbon development. Socio-economic and technological constraints are analyzed in the context of trade-offs to the local community, and its participation in international organizations. Xiaoli Lin, in contrast, examines the pursuit of city planning in China in the field of transportation development and low-carbon policy. How does Chinese policy in pursuit of increased road and transportation development square with the country’s national policy in pursuit of low-carbon development? Finally, Paul Scalise examines the question of institutional change in energy markets by exploring the fundamental conflicts between energy efficiency, deregulation, and the pursuit of low-carbon energy sources in Japan, Germany, and the UK.