Why a Diagnostic Approach is Needed in Energy and Climate Law

Senior Common Room 2nd Floor Law Building
Arts and Law, Research
Thursday 25th May 2017 (13:00-14:00)
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Professor Giuseppe Bellantuono, University of Trento Italy


There is widespread consensus on the need to explore energy and climate issues from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. Interdisciplinarity is needed because each discipline can shed light on different dimensions of energy and climate issues. A comparative perspective is needed because most of the energy and climate issues entail consequences at different scales and beyond national borders. Still, both interdisciplinary and comparative approaches require several methodological choices. Furthermore, it is by no means clear how they can be integrated.

Drawing on research I am carrying out for a forthcoming book on “Comparative Energy Law and Policy”, I propose to address the interdisciplinary-comparative interface by means of a diagnostic approach. Initially developed in the fields of environmental studies and management of natural resources, the diagnostic approach provides an encompassing framework to explore the interplay between the legal and non-legal dimensions in the energy and climate field. The diagnostic approach does not replace existing disciplinary and comparative methodologies. Its main advantage lies in unpacking the factors that affect the choices made by both public and private actors. This means that the interdisciplinary perspective can be adopted together with the comparative one. Whereas the former allows to identify the (legal and non-legal) factors to take into account, the latter allows to identify (and possibly explain) variation across systems, countries and regions.

To flesh out the implications of the diagnostic approach, an explicit link with the policy process is proposed. For each task to be undertaken in the different phases of the policy cycle, from agenda- setting to evaluation, the diagnostic approach helps understand how to integrate interdisciplinary and comparative knowledge in the policymaking process.

Two examples of the proposed approach will be discussed, both with regard to the EU and the US regulatory systems. The first one will deal with the design of wholesale electricity markets. In thiscase the concept of institutional complementarity can be employed to bridge different disciplinary perspectives and explain variation in market design choices. The second one will deal with the regulation of demand response programs. In this case the diagnostic approach allows to identify the relative weight of institutional, economic and political factors for policy outcomes.

About the speaker:

I am an associate professor of comparative law at the University of Trento, Italy. I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Private Law from the University of Trento (1996). Between 2014 and 2015 I served as seconded national expert at the European Commission, DG Energy, Energy Policy Unit. I have been invited to teach Comparative Law, EU Law and Energy Law in several European and non-European universities. My research interests are in the fields of energy and climate law, comparative and interdisciplinary methodologies, comparative analysis of regulatory systems, international contracts, behavioural legal studies. I have been invited to speak on these subjects in several international conferences. I have published more than sixty books and articles. My most recent publications include Comparative Energy Law and Policy, forthcoming Cambridge University Press, 2017/2018; G. Bellantuono and F. Puppo (eds.), Convergences and Divergences Between the Italian and the Brazilian Legal Systems, Editoriale Scientifica, 2015; G. Bellantuono and F. T. de Rezende Lara (eds.), Law, Development and Innovation, Springer, 2015; Brazil and the EU in Transnational Energy Governance, forthcoming in Brazilian Journal of Political Studies (2017); Contract Law and Regulation, in P. Monateri (ed.), Comparative Contract Law, Elgar Pub., 2017, p. 111-142; The Comparative Law and Economics of Energy Markets, in T. Eisenberg and G.B. Ramello (eds.), Comparative Law and Economics, Elgar Pub., 2016, p. 236-261

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