The management of natural resources : a comparative analysis of energy conservation policy in a developed and a developing country

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1980

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Abstract

This study, focuses on the inability or unwillingness of policymakers in the U.S. and Nigeria to enact effective energy conservation policies in the face of increasing shortages of nonrenewable energy resources. The fundamental thesis of the study is that there are certain political, economic, technological, and environmental factors that constrain the making of effective energy conservation policies. The impacts of these factors on energy conservation policymaking were the center of the analysis. Existing energy conservation policies in both the United States and Nigeria were used as vehicles for the analysis. The debates during the legislative enactment of these policies were studied in an effort to determine why some policymakers supported or opposed energy conservation policies. This also made it possible to discern the effects the policymaking process had on the policy eventually enacted. Available data was used to analyze the actual relationships between the economy, technology, the environment and energy conservation. The result of this analysis was then compared with how energy policymakers perceived these relationships. It was found that most policymakers appear to have misconceptions about the strength of these relationships. Three basic methods for inducing energy conserving behavior market mechanisms, government authority, and persuasion were analyzed. It did not appear that anyone of these methods, by itself, could instill energy conserving behavior in consumers. If there is to be sustained energy conservation in any country, it seems that all three methods have to be employed. Among the factors affecting the making of energy conservation policy, economic concerns appeared to be the most influential. Most policymakers who opposed energy conservation measures did so because they feared that these measures would have a detrimental impact on economic growth. However, the analysis of the impact of energy conservation on economic growth did not bear out this fear. This study also found that, regardless of type of political system or level of economic development, policy makers in most countries are faced with basically the same problems associated with the making of effective energy conservation policies. For these problems to be overcome, it appears that policymakers must adopt a more rational approach to the assessment of the relationship between energy conservation and the economy,environment and technology. Without an objective understanding of these relationships, energy conservation policies enacted may not be effective enough to aid in the solution to the energy problem. Finally, the study concluded that the interaction of politics, environmental concerns, the economy, institutions, and technological optimism makes current energy conservation policy reactive to events rather than being the result of a comprehensive long-range assessment of needs and priorities. To be successful, energy conservation policy would have to anticipate energy problems long before they materialize.

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Keywords

Energy policy--United States, Energy policy--Nigeria, Energy conservation--United States, Energy conservation--Nigeria

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