A friction perspective for negotiating renewable energy targets: the Israeli case

Omri Carmon*, Itay Fischhendler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Policy design studies have addressed the role of political and institutional limitations in formulating effective climate policies including renewable energy targets (RETs). However, it is still not entirely clear how and why these limitations result in policy designs that are incapable of staying on track to meet the overall goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. In order to deepen our understanding, this study introduces a friction perspective—one of the core components of the punctuated equilibrium theory used in policy change literature—and adopts it to the policy design process of energy transitions. This study argues that in cases where governments struggle to design stringent RETs, the level of friction between the elastic sub-coalitions (comprising bureaucrats and politicians) can shed light on policy design choices. By using a causal mechanism approach, the study developed several friction mechanisms to test how friction has been built and often dissolved, resulting in inadequate policy outcomes. The design process for setting Israel’s national RETs negotiated between 2015 and 2017 was used as a longitudinal case study to illustrate the role of friction and assess its impact. Unraveling how friction operates within policy design was found to be a good litmus test for the political feasibility of policy design choices. In other words, this study gives us a rudimentary blueprint of a “friction map” that, by tracing sequences of conflict and sequences of resolution, shows which particular design choices may generate more tension than others.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)313-344
Number of pages32
JournalPolicy Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Energy transitions
  • Institutional friction
  • Israel
  • Policy design
  • Renewable energy targets


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