What I’ve Been Reading, Part 1

Now that I’ve finished writing my dissertation, it seems like a good time to pause to reflect on a few of the scholarly works I’ve recently read that have influenced my own thinking, and encourage others who are interested in these topics to check ’em out!

This is the first in a series of such posts, each one focusing on a different topic related to my own research. For this first post, the topic is “Climate and Energy Policy,” with a focus on the U.S. case. Future posts will address other areas of scholarship that I work in.

Please keep in mind that this is hardly an exhaustive list of recommended scholarship, but rather just a sampling of what I’ve read most recently! I always welcome others’ reading recommendations. Please email me at jbasseches@u.northwestern.edu with any such recommendations!

Mildenberger, Matto (2020). Carbon Captured: How Business and Labor Control Climate Politics. MIT Press. In this in-depth analysis of climate policy reforms in Australia, Norway and the U.S., Mildenberger shows how the policy preferences of both business and labor groups were fragmented, with some supporting the policies and others opposing them. However, he argues that climate policy *opponents,* from both business and labor, benefited disproportionately from what he eloquently argues is the “double representation” of carbon polluters in these political systems.

Stokes, Leah C. (2020). Short-Circuiting Policy: Interest Groups and the Battle Over Clean Energy and Climate Policy in the American States. Oxford University Press. Theoretically and empirically, this is one of the closest books to my own scholarship, and I found it highly influential in how I think about state-level climate politics and policy in the U.S. Stokes illustrates beautifully the political dynamics surrounding the advancement and retrenchment of clean energy policies in four U.S. states, challenging conventional wisdom in the policy feedback literature with her novel concept of the “fog of enactment,” which, she argues, the fossil fuel and electric utility industries have used to their benefit in the instances of policy retrenchment.

Meckling, Jonas (2011). Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading. MIT Press. There is so much to like about this book, which documents the international rise of emissions trading programs (also known as “cap-and-trade”) as a policy tool for climate change mitigation. Meckling shows how these policies enjoyed the support not only of business groups, but also of a select few market-oriented environmental groups, which made the strategic decision to partner with certain business groups in order to advance climate policy, even while abandoning other environmental groups concerned with other policy goals, such as environmental justice. The book is enlightening not only in terms of improving scholarly understanding of the interest group landscape, but also, in helping scholars to appreciate the various tradeoffs between market-oriented climate policies, such as cap-and-trade, and other policy tools, such as command-and-control regulations.