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Theoretical analysis of the energy efficiency policy concept: Germany and Japan’s experience to Kazakhstan

14 May 2016
Authors: Mara Gubaidullina, А.I. Kargina

1. Theorizing energy efficiency: definition and indicators


Energy policy consists of two main parts: policy and energy efficiency. According to the ‘Energy indicators for sustainable development: guidelines and methodologies” report, published by International Energy Agency, the economic dimension includes 16 particular indicators: the total GDP and per capita, consumption by each sector, share of renewable energy sources, the end-use of energy costs. The methods and approaches to implement energy effective policy are the most questioned. In this study an attempt to analyze public policy theories, their correlation to energy efficiency policy and the practice of energy efficiency in Germany, Japan and are going to be covered. 

Public policy allows, recommends, accepts, guides, directs one or another process in the state’s everyday life, due to which it is usually associated with decision-making. “Public Policy is a very complex, dynamic process whose various components make different contributions to it”. It has a number of inherent characteristics: it varies in time, location, goals, problems. Then it turns out that public policy is a powerful tool that determines any part of state’s development. If public policy is the power that can be operated, then there are its owners respectively. The literature on public policy provides a bulk of actors, which initiate the policy, i.e. which not so much make it as are able to influence on it. Public policy approaches explain who and how make decisions, i.e. the role and relationship, cause and effect, variation and change, as well as the consequences of the policy-crafting process.


2.  Public policy main theories: actors


Thomas A. Birkland distinguishes several groups of theories, which simplifies the public policy process understanding: according to participation of various actors in the political process (agenda setting and pursuing of policy) institutionalism, social constructivism, theory of elites; according to decision-making process rational comprehensive decision making, bounded rationality and incrementalism, punctuated equilibrium; and in accordance with the public policy process itself the public policy cycle, Kingdon's streams metaphor, the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) and punctuated equilibrium are identified. Thus they are responsible for different components of public policy, which means that in order to answer the research question several theories should be taken into consideration, the use of which will reveal the holistic picture of Japanese and Kazakhstani public policy.


2.1 The theory of institutions

The theory of institutions is the classical one for public policy. The state is a set of institutions that take into account, consider, adopt (or reject) and implement a particular policy, which is directly connected with the separation of power into three branches, executive, legislative and judicial, “as organizations… in which individuals interact and achieve political and policy goals through explicit or implicit rules as operating procedures”. Legislative power is “the most active and perhaps the most important of the three branches”, however this statement may vary depending on the state’s belonging to parliamentary or presidential republic, where in the latter case the legislature plays coordinating role. Ideal system of checks and balances represents legislative and executive branches as equal, where the former one is a core decision maker and plays communicational function with society. It has a certain set of tools which ensure equilibrium, from hearings, commissions’ investigations to delays “the passage of a policy proposal”.

The executive branch can be associated with both a president (in presidential republics) and a Prime Minister (in parliamentary) in the charge of cabinet. In the first case, the president has the right to veto the law, appoint the head of cabinet and dissolve parliament, the president represents the nation in the international arena. In the second case, the Prime Minister has the administration (office) “which derived from and…responsible to the legislature”. Ideally, the executive power implements policies and controls its implementation by means of the bureaucracy, alternatively, it can also impact on decision making.

Bureaucracy role assessment is rather ambiguous in the political process: according to Max Weber “bureaucracies were an important innovation of the modern age”, though all the many complain about its “sheer size”. Bureaucracy is a system implementing laws and providing the linkage between them and society, to what extent the bureaucracy functions effectively describes its significance, and its procedurality and organized nature characterizes its readiness to perform these functions.

The judiciary branch role in public policy making is that it is applying for and interpreting laws functions. If a law does not find a solution in the sense that its adoption in parliament is highly debated, the court has the right to consider the request from one of the sides and make its own decision, using the functions entrusted to it. Additionally, if a certain socio-political phenomenon, brought to trial, is ignored by other branches, the trial could point it out and set agenda.

Political parties are the voice, “forming” and preparing a candidate to “speak” for people. Due to elected representatives society forms an opinion reflecting current situation status “the role of political parties is to influence the ideas and beliefs of citizens on public policy and so affect their electoral decisions, which themselves define the strength of a given party in the legislature and/or the executive”.

Institutionalism is the public policy classical theory due to its direct connections with the state as the main defining policy actor, which gives impetus to policy, controls and terminates it if it is necessary. In XXI century the state’s activity in public policy process is being transformed: it is still an important decision maker since its establishment, the regulatory role was entrusted to it, however, new players appear, so-called social groups, interest groups, elites can attract attention to certain problems, set agenda as well. Here the role of the state is shifting since it takes new actors’ points of view into consideration. This is what causes debates in the scientific world, giving rise to new theories of public policy.


2.2 The theory of social construction

Bibliography and references
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