Grassroots Activism and the Institutionalization of Renewable Energy Policy in Germany and the United States
48 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 15 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
Energy issues have inspired grassroots mobilization on both sides of the Atlantic. We examine the apparent paradox that activists have had a greater impact on national renewable energy policy in Germany despite the greater openness of U.S. political institutions. The German anti-nuclear movement became a focal point for critique of corporatist policy making and the growth of an advocacy coalition for renewables. With the entrance of the Greens into the Bundestag, renewables activists pursued a two-pronged approach of policy advocacy and mass mobilization. This approach has moved renewables forward despite a continued lack of citizen access opportunities. The U.S. movements lacked the broad framing and focused institutional target of their German counterparts. Further, easy access meant that countermobilization by traditional energy advocates stalemated their efforts at the national level despite the salience of the issue. Ironically, exclusion from the center of institutional power in Germany has resulted in a more fundamental challenge to that power from grassroots movements, which have been the main drivers of innovation.
Keywords: renewable energy, social movements, political institutions, environmental politics
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