Winter 2013

Why & How Governments Support Renewable Energy

Kelly Sims Gallagher

Many countries have adopted comprehensive policy frameworks to support renewable energy, but the United States has not adopted any consistent and stable policies at the national level to foster the use of renewable energy. This essay explores why some nations (Germany, China, and Denmark) and certain U.S. states (Colorado, Texas, and Ohio) have developed robust policies for the deployment of renewable energy. My aim is not to evaluate the specific policy mechanisms that countries and states have chosen, but rather to shed light on the underlying societal factors that contributed to each government's decision to enact the policies in the first place. I explore four factors that could influence a government's decision to adopt favorable policies for renewable energy: (1) economic motives; (2) a high endowment of renewable resources and/or a low endowment of nonrenewable sources; (3) the political system; and (4) cultural factors and attitudes.

KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is an Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy at Tufts University's Fletcher School, where she is also Director of the Energy, Climate, and Innovation Program in the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy. Her publications include China Shifts Gears: Automakers, Oil, Pollution, and Development (2006) and the edited volume Acting in Time on Energy Policy (2009), as well as numerous journal articles and policy reports.

To read this essay or subscribe to Dædalus, visit the Dædalus access page
Access now