What explains cross-national variation in energy policy? Although energy efficiency is widely acknowledged as a central element of energy security and international efforts to mitigate climate change, the domestic politics of energy efficiency are not well understood. I argue that variation in energy efficiency can be explained by electoral incentives. Energy efficiency is more feasible under electoral arrangements, such as non-majoritarian systems, that allow for the imposition of high, diffuse costs on the general public. This remedies an important roadblock to efficiency in democratic states – public opposition to high energy prices and taxes, particularly in the transportation sector. Ironically, although non-majoritarian electoral systems are generally viewed as poor generators of domestic public goods, their ability to impose diffuse costs makes them effective at the provision of global public goods. I test this theory both qualitatively and quantitatively. First, using a new dataset of transportation trends in fourteen OECD countries, I demonstrate the relationship between energy efficiency and electoral incentives across a range of model specifications and dependent variables. Second, I conduct an in-depth examination of the impact of electoral reform in Japan in 1994 on transportation sector efficiency policy.
A specialist on East Asian political economy and international relations, Phillip Lipscy is a Center Fellow at FSI and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. His fields of research include Japanese politics, U.S.-Japan relations, international and comparative political economy, international security, and regional cooperation in East and Southeast Asia.
Lipscy is an expert on bargaining over unbalanced representation in international organizations such as the United Nations Security Council, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. His existing work addresses a wide range of topics such as the use of secrecy in international policy making, the effect of domestic politics on trade, and Japanese responses to the Asian Financial Crisis. His most recent research examines the political and economic factors that facilitate energy efficient policy making.
Lipscy obtained his PhD in political science at Harvard University. He received his MA in international policy studies and BA in economics and political science at Stanford University. Lipscy has been affiliated with the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, the Institute for Global and International Studies at George Washington University, the RAND Corporation, and the Institute for International Policy Studies in Tokyo.
Last modified Friday, November 21, 2014 - 9:32am