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Politics of Industrial Survival - Or Survival of Energy Politics? The Influence of Coal Industry Actors and Patterns Driving Policy Change

Interest Groups
Business
Climate Change
Lobbying
Policy Change
Energy Policy
Influence
Sybille Reitz
Bavarian School of Public Policy
Sybille Reitz
Bavarian School of Public Policy

Abstract

Efforts to move away from a fossil fuel driven economy have a major impact on carbon-intensive industries and particularly the coal sector. Considering that two EU member states, Germany and Poland, are among the world’s largest coal consuming countries, the question occurs how actors with interest in coal production and consumption are responding to demands for a rapid low carbon energy transition and why we see differences in the behavior of these coal consuming states in EU energy policy negotiations? Business actors in the coal and electric utility industry have been trying to slow down negotiations but apparently with different degrees of success. In light of the strategic goal to decarbonize energy in the EU and the opposition of some member states, my research aims to gain a better understanding of the politics of the coal and electric utility industry in the EU, of the way this industry works and how coal and electric utility business actors have been trying to influence the decarbonization debate, EU energy policy negotiations and European Energy Union governance. Furthermore, the goal is to grasp how the debate about climate change changes and shapes the industry and what factors drive energy transition away from coal. As theoretical starting point I will use Pieter Bouwen’s “Theory of Access” to analyze how coal and electric utility business actors in Germany and Poland react to decarbonization pressure, what interest intermediation strategies, avenues and instruments they use and what points of access are most successful. After a first round of empirical research (currently ongoing), I will draw on the policy change literature to enhance the theoretical framework. The goal is to analyze the dynamics and factors that – despite the attempts of coal industry actors to protect their business – drive policy change.