State Capacity and Climate Policy

Event Description

The Power of Process: State Capacity and Climate Policy with Dr. Jonas Nahm


April 3, 2018 | 12:30pm-2
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Rome Building 812
1619 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036


State capacity is central to the provision of public goods, including environmental protection. Drawing on climate policymaking, this article argues that the division of labor between the bureaucracy and legislature in policy formulation is a critical source of state capacity. In cases of bureaucratic policy design, the legislature sets policy goals and delegates policy design to bureaucracies. This division of labor shifts distributional conflict to autonomous bureaucracies, allowing for effective policy design. California followed this path in climate policymaking, setting it on track to meet climate goals. In cases of legislative policy design, bureaucracies set goals and legislatures design policy measures. Since legislators have incentives to respond to vested interests, legislative policy design is vulnerable to regulatory capture. In Germany, legislative policy design in climate policymaking is preventing attainment of emissions reduction goals, as industry interests succeeded in blocking key policy measures. Our findings highlight procedural sources of state capacity.


About the Speaker


Jonas Nahm is an Assistant Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment at Johns Hopkins SAIS. He studies the political economy of development and industrial upgrading in green industries, the politics of innovation, and the political economy of the energy sector. In addition to China – his primary focus for the exploration of these themes – Jonas’ research draws on cases in Germany and the United States.


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Event Schedule

Introduction of Speaker

Speaker Presentation