Decision-making, Implementation and Reform
New Horizons in Environmental Politics series
The final chapter summarizes the empirical findings of Chapters 3 to 10, extracts analytical implications and presents some reflections on the future road for EU climate and energy policy. Concerning the road ahead, the EU will need to reform and tighten the 2030 climate and energy framework in several policy rounds in order to deliver on its 2050 decarbonization goal. The challenge is indeed formidable: to facilitate and shape a transformation towards decarbonization among 28 member-states with widely differing energy economies by the year 2050. How the future will look is veiled in great uncertainty. Institutionalized cooperation might gather momentum through a ‘snowball effect’ generating positive feedback from implementation and facilitating further steps. Or the future situation might be more in line with the economists’ ‘law of diminishing returns’. Here, the first steps are likely to be the ‘easy ones’ in which marginal benefits clearly exceed marginal costs. This ‘law’ indicates that it will become increasingly difficult to promote new joint policies, and that governments will gradually become more reluctant as regards implementing them. As the EU’s long-term plans now stand, the decarbonization challenge lies increasingly with implementation in the member-states. To ensure longer-term collective success, climate, energy and possibly other policies will have to be regionalized or linked through repeating policy-cycles in ways that can serve to create positive experiences and benefits among all the diverse member-states of the European Union.
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