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Examining the critical role of institutions and innovations in shaping productive energy policy for Russia

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This article focuses on the role of institutions and innovations in shaping future energy policy in Russia. First, it provides a context of current trends to understand the need for greater innovation policies in Russia. Second, it reviews the need for a more institutional approach to innovation in Russia, especially with respect to energy policy and climate change solutions. It also suggests the kind of innovations at scale that must be fostered and promoted to achieve the substantial outcome that is needed. Finally, the assessment closes with a discussion of next steps that should be quickly taken, if Russia is to ensure a positive outcome. The authors argue that to maintain a robust and sustainable economy in the long term, countries should increase overall energy and resource productivity. A revitalized innovation process is necessary to achieve large-scale cost reductions for energy efficiency services and clean energy technologies that dramatically increase the deployment of both new and existing clean energy technologies. Part of that revitalized innovation will include the creation of new systems of general-purpose energy and communication technologies. In summary, a proper institutional background is proposed as a key to innovative development. Hence, the priority policy measures which should be undertaken in Russia are those aimed more specifically at institutional improvement.

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  1. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) used 36 metrics to evaluate each country’s national commitment to energy efficiency as well as the potential impact of energy efficiency policies and performance in the buildings, industry, and transportation sectors. Italy and Germany claimed the top spot in the 2018 rankings with a score of 75.5 out of 100. The average score across all nations was 50.5 points with Russia earning 34.5 points. This placed it at #21 out of the 25 nations. While Russia showed positive results in transportation and industry, buildings and electricity production ranked very low. Again, see Castro-Alvarez et al. (2018).

  2. Another description for systems thinking is what has been called a “multidimensional framework,” in this case, for developing effective energy, climate, or environmental policy throughout the global economy. See, for example, Cohen (2006).

  3. There is evidence that Russia’s economy is tightly connected to the price of oil which might impact the GDP data points in Fig. 4. However, even if the data are properly adjusted to capture the influence of oil prices, the very tight link between energy productivity and total factor productivity remains. This same relationship holds for other national economies as well.

  4. The latest long-term projections by the OECD (2014), for example, suggest that with expected gains in overall economic productivity, Russia may see an expansion of only 2% real GDP over the period 2014 through 2050.


  6. Data from the International Energy Agency for various years.

  7. A study on entrepreneurship,

  8. A rating that assesses institutions’ quality, necessary to do business,

  9. Doing business in 2004–2016 showed positive dynamics in a number of necessary procedures to start a business (from 13 to 3.7), of days needed to start a business (from 43 to 9.8), costs to start a business (from 10.9 to 1% of income per capita), of number of procedures needed to deal with construction permits (from 49 to 13.7), etc.


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Correspondence to Vera A. Barinova.

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Barinova, V., “Skip” Laitner, J.A. Examining the critical role of institutions and innovations in shaping productive energy policy for Russia. J Environ Stud Sci 9, 54–66 (2019).

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