Theses Doctoral

Three essays on political institutions and environmental governance

Dumas, Marion Marie

This dissertation analyzes how political competition and judicial institutions shape environmental governance in democratic societies. The three chapters frame environmental problems in several different ways. In the first chapter, environmental policy is framed as an ideologically contentious public good. In the second chapter, two conceptions are juxtaposed: the environment as just another policy domain subject to political haggling, or the environment as bringing about new fundamental commitments in society, prone to becoming constitutionalized through legal deliberation. In the third chapter, the dynamic properties of technological transitions toward more sustainable modes of production are emphasized.
Different types of institutions are considered in the three chapters. The first two chapters examine how political and legal processes interact. They also consider the different ways in which they channel the inputs and wishes of civil society. Chapter one is a formal model of the institution of citizen suits – a prevalent institution in environmental governance – and its interaction with the legislature. It shows that the reshaping of laws by citizens and courts after their enactment by the legislature might improve the decision process of the legislature and the public good outcomes that ensue. Chapter two is an empirical analysis of the dynamics of environmental legal rules. It uses the network of citations to legal precedent to test whether the dynamic body of law governing the environment is driven by political shifts in power or follows a process that is autonomous from these shifts in power. The results suggest that environmental law is now constitutionalized – its main principles entrenched in democratic culture rather than subject to the ebb and flow of democratic turnover of power. Chapter three also considers the dynamic aspects of governance. It uses a computational model to examine how political parties with different ideological commitments towards renewable energy might strategically use the path-dependence of technological transitions to shape policy over the long-term. It also examines how electoral pressures might constrain or help them in this endeavor.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sustainable Development
Thesis Advisors
Ting, Michael M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 13, 2016