Political science scholarship on climate change mitigation has shifted focus significantly in the past five years. While previous scholarship emphasized anthropogenic warming as a collective action problem between nation-states, "the comparative turn" within climate politics has drawn attention to the ways distributive politics within countries determines the pace and kind of decarbonization pursued.
This project pursues the comparative turn by documenting the institutions that create and sustain climate policy. It is motivated by the insight that "policies make a politics"—that is, domestic political institutions and the policies they produce structure the landscape of politics, and are therefore worth consideration of the first order. Following Hacker and Pierson (2014), we define policy structures as a joint product of policymaking institutions and policies themselves. How decentralized a country's electricity governance is, for example, may influence coordination problems between jurisdictions that make renewable energy grid penetration more or less difficult.
Our approach formulates ten (10) such dimensions of policy structures, and seeks to describe the climate policy structures of the largest forty (40) emitting national economies around the world. Research participants will contribute to the project by writing scholarly memos characterizing each country according to the ten dimensions, drawing upon existing case studies, government websites, and archive materials to do so. We will then employ these memos in an fsQCA analysis to determine the degree to which countries "cluster" around certain bundles of institutional attributes, and to assess the complementarities between different kinds of institutions.
By developing a comprehensive and descriptive understanding of climate policy structures, our research project will lay the groundwork for future scholarship on the interplay between institutions, interests, and ideas. In doing so, it will help us better understand the political obstacles to reducing carbon emissions, and ways through which they might be overcome. To this end, it is anticipated that this research may be included in an upcoming IPCC report which focuses on the challenges and opportunities of within-country climate change mitigation efforts.
The undergraduate's role will be to help collect and code data on institutions of climate goverance in countries around the world. This will entail a number of activities, including but not limited to:
Historical and archival research, literature review writing, database navigation, political analysis, bibliography management, interviews of relevant actors in the field, translation of documents (as required).
An interest in the subject matter and an ability to gather and synthesize the findings of academic work is required. Background in political science is useful but not necessary. Please state your foreign language skills in the body of your application.