Coalition cascades: the politics of tipping points in clean energy transitions

Meckling, Jonas / Nicholas Goedeking
External Publications (2023)

in: Political Studies Journal, first published 20.07.2023

Open access

Policy change often involves multiple policy subsystems, as in the case of clean energy transitions. We argue that trans-subsystem policy feedback is a central dynamic in policy change across subsystems. Policy in one subsystem creates benefits/costs and/or learning effects that mobilize actors for policy change in another subsystem, resulting in “coalition cascades” across interdependent subsystems. If coalition cascades lead to the resolution of coordination problems across subsystems, the system reaches a tipping point in policy change. Coalition cascades are thus the transmission belts of trans-subsystem policy feedback. We illustrate our argument in the case of California's clean energy transition. We show how early renewable energy policy spilled over into the subsystems on grid policy - leading to energy storage policy - and on transport policy - resulting in electric vehicle charging policy. The article advances our understanding of the mechanisms underpinning trans-subsystem policy change, offering a model of the politics of tipping points.

About the author

Goedeking, Nicholas

Comparative Political Economy

Further experts

Banerjee, Aparajita

Environmental and Resource Sociology, Public Policy 

Never, Babette

Political Scientist 

Pegels, Anna