Srinivas “Chinnu” Parinandi, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan recently won the Jean Monnet Graduate Fellowship to undertake his summer project, “Burdens of Centralization? Carbon Policy Innovation in the (De)Centralizing European Union.”

    Parinandi seeks to answer whether political centralization reduces the capacity for governments to innovate. More specifically, he asks whether the establishment of the EU-wide European Carbon Market (ECM) represents an innovation over previous nation-specific carbon policies. Here, an innovation is defined as a policy that is new to the state adopting it.

    These questions are motivated by the long-standing assumption that increasing centralization of political decision-making decreases innovation in policy outcomes by giving authority to fewer individuals. Parinandi’s challenge to this assumption has important implications for longstanding projects of political centralization that are under reconsideration.

    Functional by 2005 and now concluding its second phase, the ECM is a centralized EU-wide emissions trading market that allows for the purchase and trade of carbon-production permits by firms operating within the EU. Through political centralization, the launching of the ECM accomplished an innovative goal that had eluded policymakers in Europe for years: the creation of an emissions market with sufficient scale to minimize externalities associated with firm departure (capital flight).     The ECM is an interesting case in this debate since its implementation casts doubt on conventional beliefs held about political centralization, namely that it stifles policy innovation by way of curtailing autonomy.     

    The project is part of his dissertation, currently entitled “Federal (De)Centralization and Policy Diffusion: Does Central Control Block Innovation?” Parinandi is a recipient of the Departmental Fourth-year Fellowship and a Kingdon Teaching Award winner. His broad research interests center on federalism, policy diffusion, political economy, and welfare politics.
The Jean Monnet Graduate Fellowship is awarded by the Center for European Studies and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies as summer grants of $5,000 for projects on issues of European integration, broadly defined. Student grantees will conduct research leading to the writing of a paper on a relevant topic of their choosing.