published on Journal of Environment & Development December 15, 2017
The transformation toward sustainability calls for profound renovation of economic structures, technologies, and institutions. The concept of green energy policy, which we define as encompassing any policy measure aimed at aligning the structure of a country’s energy sector with the needs of sustainable development within established planetary boundaries, is critical to this end. We elaborate on why the state needs to play an eminent role in driving the green transformation in general and that of the energy sector in particular, why this brings about coordination challenges with nonstate actors, and how these can be met. We illustrate these aspects with energy policy examples from countries of the global South and, where illustrative, North. In particular, we argue that green energy policy success is subject to three conditions: effectiveness, efficiency, and legitimacy. These conditions can be achieved by facilitating societal agreement on the direction of change, forging change alliances, systematic policy learning, and using market mechanisms to manage policy rents and political capture.