Political-institutional barriers to energy efficiency

Energy Strategy Reviews 

Vol. 8, July 2015, Pages 30–38

Authors : Simon Langlois-Bertrand, Mohamed Benhaddadi, Maya Jegen, Pierre-Olivier Pineau


  • Political-institutional barriers are important obstacles to energy efficiency.
  • Moreover, political-institutional barriers often interact with one another.
  • Even when other barriers are removed, they can impede energy efficiency efforts.
  • Specific attention to these barriers is critical if policy efforts are to succeed.


Energy efficiency is touted as a critical component of societies’ response to the challenges of climate change, economic development, and energy security. Although a rich literature exists on various impediments to energy efficiency, insufficient attention has been given to political-institutional barriers. We propose a classification of these obstacles, and group them into three broad categories: political obstruction, conflicting guidelines in the governance structure, and lack of policy coordination. We illustrate them at work on three cases where energy efficiency measures were prevented, impeded, or slowed down by some of these barriers. Although we welcome increased attention to all types of barriers to energy efficiency in recent years, efforts in this regard may be severely limited if more attention is not given to barriers of the political-institutional type.

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