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Energy Trilemma: Climate Policy Pluralism in the United States – Domestic and International Implications

Magnus Abraham-Dukuma


Emissions reduction, energy security and energy affordability constitute core energy problems facing countries today. At the heart of these problems is the key issue of decarbonisation. Although there is an international drive to address the issue within the United Nations climate change regime, the domestic policy regime in the United States of America seems to be in conflict. While California has made, and is still making, positive strides in emissions reduction at a state level, the Trump administration seeks to lower the United States' fuel efficiency and emissions reduction standards at the federal level. Potentially this has multiple domestic, regional and international ramifications. This is in addition to the unpopular US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2017 by Trump. Accordingly, there is a need to understand the jurisprudential and philosophical underpinnings behind its changing stance and its relationship with the world. Against this backdrop, this paper critically examines the policy implications of these issues and argues for policy alignment between components of the federal structure and the need for persistent and concerted efforts by the nations to address climate change. The paper is divided into three parts. Part one examines the conflicting emissions reduction policies within the American federal system. Part two critically analyses the policy implications and need for policy alignment within the context of climate policy and part three draws conclusions and presents insights for further research.

Magnus Abraham-Dukuma is PhD Candidate at The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. For Correspondence: <>


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