Strategic Challenges in International Climate and Energy Policy (completed)

This is a major interdisciplinary research project undertaken jointly by CICERO (Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo; host institution), the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, and the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo. It will be organised as a research centre (CICEP), and Underdal will serve as Director of this centre.

Main goals

We have set two main goals for CICEP. First, the centre will help identify and design realistic international policy options and strategies that can effectively drive the transition towards a low-carbon energy future. We will do so by systematically examining the political feasibility of alternative policy options that meet basic requirements of environmental sustainability and economic efficiency. The political feasibility of a certain option can be seen as a function of the extent to which it caters to the values and interests of pivotal actors and winning coalitions. Second, the centre will help determine the consequences of plausible policy options and trajectories for global and European energy and energy technology markets, for major Norwegian industries, and for government strategies.


Major components

The work to be undertaken is organised in five interrelated “work packages” (WPs). WPs 1 and 2 focus on policy development (i.e., the first main goal), WPs 3 and 4 on policy consequences (the second goal), while WP-5 highlights the priority given to synthesis and outreach.

More specifically, WP-1 explores driving forces and likely climate and energy policy trajectories for seven key actors: the United States, the European Union, China, India, Brazil, Japan and Russia. In WP-2 we ask which international regimes or agreements appear the most promising for mitigating the impact of human activities on the global climate system. Recognising that an actor’s willingness to contribute may depend on what others do, we study contingency relationships with particular attention to possibilities for one or a few “frontrunners” to trigger positive responses from others. In WP-3 we examine the economic consequences of the most plausible international policy options and trajectores for international energy markets and key Norwegian industries. In WP-4 we examine the consequences of EU climate, energy and technology policies for Norway. This work package involves a series of studies examining long-term EU policy developments, implementation and adaptation in key European member states and industries, and the mechanisms through which these developments affect Norwegian industries and government strategies. WP-5 will synthesise, disseminate and initiate debate around results from the other work packages with the aim of fostering dialogue and collaboration with user partners and stakeholders.

A wide range of methodological approaches are used in this project, from qualitative process-tracing to various types of modelling and statistical analysis. The project is truly interdisciplinary, with political science and economics at the core, but with links to natural science, technology and law.



We will work with several international research partners, in particular centres or other research units at University of California San Diego; Basque Centre for Climate Change; Fudan University; and Lund University. Collaboration is also envisaged with other Norwegian centres for research on environment-friendly energy (notably BigCCS and CREE). CICEP is fortunate to have a number of user partners from industry and government who also bring substantial expertise to the project.



CICEP is funded mainly by the Research Council of Norway for a period of five years beginning in 2011, with the possibility of extension for another three years. Several of our user partners contribute additional financial support.


Published Oct. 7, 2010 12:34 PM - Last modified May 25, 2021 4:16 PM