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date: 22 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

Energy policy comprises rules concerning energy sources; energy efficiency; energy prices; energy from abroad; energy infrastructure; and climate and environmental aspects of energy production, utilization, and transit. The main theme in energy policy concerns the trade-offs between affordable, secure, and clean energy. Energy policy is a cross-sectoral—or boundary-spanning—policy area, which means that energy policy has implications for or is affected by decisions taken in adjacent policy areas such as those addressing agriculture, climate, development, economy, environment, external relations, and public health. The cross-sectoral character of energy policy is reflected in how it is proposed, adopted, implemented, and evaluated. Putting an energy policy issue on the political agenda can be attained easily, while the diversity of interests of the actor groups that are potentially affected by the proposal can complicate the policy process. The implementation depends on whether the energy policy measure in question is of a local, national, or international nature; and to what extent the implementation entails joint efforts by state and non-state actors. As with policy instruments adopted in any other policy area, the evaluation of an energy policy’s success is likely to vary across the different actor groups involved.

The analytical perspectives on energy policy depend on the energy source of interest. Research concentrating on fossil energy sources (i.e., coal, oil, and natural gas) has traditionally adopted the analytical lens of international relations and international political economy. A similar research interest can be observed for studies of unconventional fossil energy sources (i.e., oil shale, oil sands, and shale gas) and nuclear power, although the centrality of risk and uncertainty in the analytical frameworks adopted help to connect these topics more directly with the public policy literature. The energy policy issue that has been on the research agendas of all political science subfields—including comparative politics—is renewable energy. Questions concerning the supply and management of energy infrastructure have received attention from public administration scholars.

Keywords: climate change, conventional energy sources, energy dependency, energy efficiency, energy infrastructure, energy innovation, energy security, fossil fuels, international trade, renewable energy, transit, unconventional energy sources

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