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Masters of the machinery: The politics of economic modelling within European Union energy policy
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 16:06 authored by Sarah Royston, Chris Foulds, Roberto Pasqualino, Aled Jones
Economic modelling plays a major role in the development, justification and evaluation of energy policies. However, there has been little investigation of how political dynamics systematically influence these models' development and outputs, or the implications for energy strategies, targets and interventions. Using in-depth interviews with 24 European modellers and policyworkers, we illuminate the politics of economic modelling within European Union (EU) energy policymaking, focusing on dynamics of contestation, differentiated influence and power relations within models' a) framing of questions and problems; b) framing of scenarios and solutions; c) structural assumptions and d) definition of quantitative data inputs. We then consider deeper questions of e) access and exclusion, showing how modelling is used to silence critical voices and reinforce incumbent interests. We argue that understanding this politics of modelling is crucial to the implementation of sustainable energy transitions. We conclude with recommendations for researchers and policyworkers seeking to promote the use of alternative/innovative models in energy policy (within and beyond the EU), centring on reflexivity; recognition; and relationship-building. Developing multi-sectoral ‘communities of practice’ around innovative modelling approaches is vital in challenging a vicious circle of evidence and policy that legitimises business-as-usual in a dangerously warming world.
Publication titleEnergy Policy
- Published version