Climate change mitigation requires sustainable energy transitions, but their political dynamics are poorly understood. This article presents a general dynamic model of renewable energy policy with long time horizons, endogenous electoral competition, and techno-political path dependence. We calibrate the model with data on the economics of contemporary renewable energy technologies. In doing so, we discover transition dynamics not present in economy-energy models, which ignore politics, or in formal political economy models, which ignore long-term technological dynamics. We show that the largest effects of partisan ideology on policy occur when the competing parties disagree on the importance of energy policy. In these cases, the less ideological party appeases the more ideological one, while the more ideological party attempts to appease the electorate. The results demonstrate that political dynamics could have large effects on the development of renewable energy and carbon dioxide emissions over time, influencing the ability of countries to reach various climate mitigation trajectories.

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Energy Efficiency
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Energy Efficiency
Improving energy efficiency is lauded as a promising way reduce emissions and lower energy costs. Yet, a robust body of research demonstrates that not all efficiency investments deliver. EPIC faculty...
Renewable Energy
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Renewable Energy
Lower technology costs and supportive public policies are driving an increase in renewable energy in markets around the world. EPIC research is assessing the costs, benefits, and efficiency of policies...
Climate Change
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Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent global challenge. EPIC research is helping to assess its impacts, quantify its costs, and identify an efficient set of policies to reduce emissions and adapt...
Climate Economics
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Climate Economics
Climate change will affect every sector of the economy, both locally and globally. EPIC research is quantifying these effects to help guide policymakers, businesses, and individuals working to mitigate and...
Climate Law & Policy
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Climate Law & Policy
As countries around the world implement policies to confront climate change, EPIC research is calculating which policies will have the most impact for the least cost.
Definition
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.