New journal article: “Transformative Energy Policy in Federal Systems: Canada and Germany Compared“ In: Canadian Journal of European and Russian Studies 14 (2):56-78 (with Arthur Benz)

April 19, 2021


Transforming the energy system towards an increasing share of renewables requires a significant change of a policy to redirect the path-dependent evolution of a highly complex technical system. Moreover, a new path of development towards energy provision from renewables has to be stabilized to assure sustainability. The federal systems in Canada and Germany diverge in the institutional conditions relevant for policy change and stability. Canadian federalism separates powers in energy policy and allows the federal and provincial governments to change policies on their own. In contrast, German federalism requires co-operation between federal and Länder governments which favors policy stability but renders significant change unlikely.

However, energy transformation started in the 1990s in Germany under conditions that allowed the federal government to avoid the usual mode of joint decision-making. In Canada, provincial governments took the lead in energy transformation, when the conservative federal government showed no interest in intergovernmental coordination. The article explains these shifts in power within the institutional framework. It also discusses the consequences, considering the stability of transformative energy policy. In Germany, policy change from the center undermined the stabilizing structures of intergovernmental coordination, in Canada, institutional conditions favoring continuity never existed. Hence in both countries, governments changed policies but failed to reform institutions of governance.

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