How Chile achieved its renewable energy boom

How Chile achieved its renewable energy boom
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A new paper in Policy Studies Journal investigates how Chile achieved its renewable energy boom by forming contingent coalitions in environmental policymaking.

Chile is currently undergoing a renewable energy boom which started two decades ago, and is the second largest market for renewable energies in Latin America.

In 2016, Chile was the top scoring renewable energy producer in the Americas and the second top renewable energy producer in the world after China.

Understanding the renewable energy boom in Chile

The paper aims to explain the transformation of Chile and its current renewable energy boom using the concept of contingent coalitions.

Prof. Madariaga, of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, in Mexico, and the Universidad Mayor, in Chile, said: “The official understanding of the Chilean renewable success story highlights the role of a few government entrepreneurs, but this has hidden the crucial role played by environmental organizations and social movements in pushing this process… they managed to increase their political clout and policy influence by forming what we call contingent coalitions.”

What are contingent coalitions?

Contingent coalitions are defined by the authors of the paper, Aldo Madariaga and Mathilde Allain, as collective actors with conflicting but partly overlapping agendas and interests that may contingently coalesce to foster those interests and/or beliefs that they share.

The authors argue that the contingency of the coalitions forged by social movements and environmental organisations was a key reason why Chile was able to transform its energy sector and make its renewable energy boom a reality.

Madariaga and Allain write: “The paper advances our understanding of policy change in contexts of high path dependency and status quo bias, and builds the concept of “contingent coalitions,” unifying similar but scattered and under‐theorized notions that capture the fluid dynamics of coalition formation and policy change in environmental policymaking.”

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