University of Colorado at Boulder

Colloquia Event

Friday November 15, 2013. 03:30 pm. GUGG 205

Multi-Level Governance, Climate Change And Urban Energy Transitions: State-Local Relations In Colorado's ‘New Energy Economy’

Michele Betsill

Colorado State University, Department of Political Science

Abstract: The energy sector has become a central means through which local authorities pursue climate protection goals. Officials typically favor energy efficiency measures, which are politically attractive because of low-up front costs and immediate cost savings. However, such measures fail to contribute to a low-carbon transition since they do not require broader changes in how energy is produced. Previous research on cities and climate change governance suggests that decisions made at higher levels of political jurisdiction can create synergies and conflict that shape the development, implementation and effectiveness of municipal climate policies. This project explores whether the State of Colorado's "New Energy Economy" program under former-Governor Bill Ritter (2007-2011) enabled local authorities to develop new renewable energy initiatives. I argue that state-local relations are particularly important in the adoption and implementation of renewable energy policies, which can be challenging for local authorities given their limited authority over energy production as well as the high up-front costs related to the deployment of renewable energy technologies. In this presentation, I will present survey data collected in 2011 on climate protection and renewable energy initiatives in Colorado municipalities as well as officials' perceptions of whether the New Energy Economy helped them advance renewable energy in their communities. I will then outline four distinct pathways by which state-level policies might facilitate local action in the renewable energy sector and discuss future plans for exploring these pathways in the case of Colorado.

Geography colloquium series was made possible by the generous support from The Beirne Carter Foundation.