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An international comparison of four polycentric approaches to climate and energy governance

  • Ecology
  • Political Science


Drawing from work on governance, this article explores four programs and policies that respond in some way to the challenges induced by climate change and modern energy use. Relying primarily on original data collected from research interviews and field research in seven countries along with four case studies, the article notes that polycentric approaches - those that mix scales (such as local/national or national/global), mechanisms (such as subsidies, tax credits, and mandates), and actors (such as government regulators, business stakeholders, and members of civil society) - can foster equity, inclusivity, information, accountability, organizational multiplicity, and adaptability that result in the resolution of climate and energy related problems. After explaining its case selection and research methods, defining climate and energy governance, and conceptualizing polycentrism, the study explores cases related to electricity supply in Denmark, ethanol production in Brazil, small-scale renewable energy in Bangladesh, and off-grid energy use in China. It concludes by highlighting how polycentrism may enhance effective climate and energy governance, but that further research is needed to fully substantiate that claim.

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