It takes two to dance: Institutional dynamics and climate-related financial policies

Article published in Ecological Economics

This article studies how institutional dynamics might affect and be affected by the implementation of climate-related financial policies. First, we propose a three-dimensional framework to distinguish: i) motives for policy implementation (prudential or promotional); ii) policy instruments (informational, incentive-based or quantity-based); and iii) implementing authorities (political or delegated). Second, we use this framework to show how sustainable financial interventions in certain jurisdictions – most notably, Europe – rely predominantly on informational policy instruments to achieve both promotional and prudential objectives. Policymakers in other jurisdictions – e.g. China – also employ incentive- or quantity-based instruments to achieve promotional objectives. Third, we identify two main institutional explanations for this European ‘promotional gap’: i) a reduced intervention of political authorities on the allocation of financial resources; and ii) a stronger independence of technical delegated authorities supervising financial dynamics. This governance configuration leads to an institutional deadlock in which only measures fitting with both political and delegated authorities’ objectives can be implemented. Finally, we identify and discuss the possible institutional scenarios that could originate from the current setting, and stress the need for close cooperation between political and delegated authorities.