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Environmental quality is a non-excludable public good in that good quality for one is good for all; security may have similar characteristics. The resulting market failures mean that without remedies markets will undersupply. Each consumer has a different valuation that cannot readily be revealed, often requiring public action to remedy. Climate change is the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen, with global long-lasting impacts requiring collective action best addressed by credible global rising carbon taxes that will be challenging to deliver. Policy needs to choose instruments well targeted to objectives, correcting market failures through taxes or standard setting, leaving distributional justice to the tax and benefit system. This chapter argues that the concept of market completeness is helpful in designing appropriate energy policies to address both problems.
Political science does not offer a distinct subdiscipline to address the subject of energy. Insofar as political science has addressed energy, it has focused on issues often neglected by other disciplines, notably the role of geopolitics and international relations, and the domestic politics of resource-rich states. Apart from the different subfields, we examine different approaches including realism, constructivism, liberalism and Marxism. The rise and fall and rise again of academic articles on energy in leading political science journals is reviewed and linked to exogenous forces such as the price of oil. Two distinct energy topics which have received attention are nuclear power and the oil crises of 1973–79 because of their wider geopolitical ramifications. Perhaps the most prominent or consistent thread through studies of the politics of energy is the question of energy security or energy independence. Finally, in recent years, energy has increasingly emerged as a focus for study in environmental politics and climate change politics in particular.
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