The Power of Process – State Capacity & Climate Policy with Dr. Jonas Nahm

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State capacity is central to the provision of public goods, including environmental protection. In an article titled the same, drawing on climate policymaking, Nahm (and Meckling) argue that the division of labor between the bureaucracy and legislature in policy formulation is a critical source of state capacity.

In cases of bureaucratic policy design, the legislature sets policy goals and delegates policy design to bureaucracies. This division of labor shifts distributional conflict to autonomous bureaucracies, allowing for effective policy design.

California followed this path in climate policymaking, setting it on track to meet climate goals. In cases of legislative policy design, bureaucracies set goals and legislatures design policy measures. Since legislators have incentives to respond to vested interests, legislative policy design is vulnerable to regulatory capture. In Germany, legislative policy design in climate policymaking is preventing attainment of emissions reduction goals, as industry interests succeeded in blocking key policy measures. Their findings highlight procedural sources of state capacity.

About the Speaker:
Jonas Nahm is an Assistant Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment at Johns Hopkins SAIS. He studies the political economy of development and industrial upgrading in green industries, the politics of innovation, and the political economy of the energy sector. In addition to China – his primary focus for the exploration of these themes – Jonas’ research draws on cases in Germany and the United States.

Event is Open to the Public


Johns Hopkins University, Room 812
1619 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036

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