Creating the conditions for a globally just energy transition

November 28, 2019

How can the energy transition be organized in a globally just way? Will developing countries struggle to transition to clean energy because they lack the financial and technical means? A new Policy Brief by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) focuses on the risks of an uneven transition and makes concrete proposals to prevent such risks.

In their Policy Brief "Countering the risk of an uneven low-carbon energy transition", the authors Laima Eicke, Silvia Weko and Prof. Andreas Goldthau from the IASS write that meeting the technological and financial prerequisites for a global energy transition is crucial. Otherwise there is a danger that developing countries will not be able to make the change to more environmentally friendly energy systems and continue to lag behind in the energy transition - with far-reaching consequences for themselves and the rest of the world. On the one hand, a rise in global carbon emissions will have a negative global effect. On the other, late-transitioning countries would be more susceptible to political instability and economic crisis.

For example, countries that are unable to phase out fossil fuels quickly enough are at risk of being excluded from international trade and value chains. This is because in a decarbonising global economy, the carbon content of products will become an important factor for determining market access, and latecomers risk being left behind. The resulting damage to their economies could be sustained.

COP25 as a stepping stone to a global energy transition strategy

To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, all countries should have equal opportunities to decarbonise their economies - and consistent strategies are needed for that to happen. As Laima Eicke, one of the study's authors, points out: "If the gap between early- and late-decarbonising countries widens, so too might the potential for disagreements, further slowing the transition." To prevent that scenario, many countries need commitments for financial and technical assistance to speed up their energy transition processes to the degree required by the Paris Agreement.

The Meetings of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, which includes representatives of various government levels as well as the private sector and investors, might open further space for these discussions at COP25.

Other international platforms, bilateral programmes, and private actors can also play an important role. Initiatives like the NDC Partnership highlight the potential for aligning the activities of multiple actors in specific country contexts.

Steps must also be taken to coordinate the principles and practices of financial actors across all countries. COP25 in Madrid could serve as a stepping stone to consistent strategies, which will be crucial for developing countries as they update their NDCs in 2020 and for efforts to close the ambition gap.

The authors' three recommendations:

1. Policy debates on 'just transitions' focus on the implications of phasing out fossil fuels from national energy mixes. Yet there are distributional effects of a global energy transition especially for developing countries that lack financial and technological means to transition, creating structural risks. Acknowledging this global dimension of just transitions at the UNFCCC may help to create alliances for climate action.

2. Technology transfer initiatives can accelerate the diffusion of low-carbon energy technologies. Yet only a third of existing initiatives focus on transferring skills, expertise and technology simultaneously. To ensure the success of a global energy transition, tech transfer must be targeted and comprehensive.

3. COP25 should coordinate a consistent strategy among financial actors to shift financial flows for energy transitions in the Global South. Common guidelines for long-term risk assessments and an exchange of best practices for capacity development could leverage ambition in the 2020 NDC updating processes.
-end-
Lead author Laima Eicke will present these recommendations at a side event at COP25 in Madrid on 3 December 2019.

Publication:

Eicke, L., Weko, S., Goldthau, A.: Countering the risk of an uneven low-carbon energy transition, IASS Policy Brief, November 2019. https://www.iass-potsdam.de/de/ergebnisse/publikationen/2019/countering-risk-uneven-low-carbon-energy-transition

Scientific points of contact:

Laima Eicke
Telephone: +49 331 28822 447
Email: laima.eicke@iass-potsdam.de

Silvia Weko
Telephone: +49 331 28822 448
Email: silvia.weko@iass-potsdam.de

For further information, please contact:

Sabine Letz
Press & Communications
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)
Tel. +49 (0)331 288 22-479
Email: sabine.letz@iass-potsdam.de
http://www.iass-potsdam.de

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS)

Related Clean Energy Articles from Brightsurf:

Hydrogen embrittlement creates complications for clean energy storage, transportation
Hydrogen is becoming a crucial pillar in the clean energy movement, and developing safe and cost-effective storage and transportation methods for it is essential but complicated, because hydrogen can cause brittleness in several metals including ferritic steel.

Researchers forecast COVID-19 pandemic could delay clean energy transition
Traveling restraints and shelter-in-place orders that grounded planes and emptied streets during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic brought greenhouse gas emissions down and air quality up.

Navigating the clean energy transition during the COVID-19 crisis
In a Commentary published April 29 in the journal Joule, energy and climate policy researchers in Switzerland and Germany provide a framework for responsibly and meaningfully integrating policies supporting the clean energy transition into the COVID-19 response in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Gas storage method could help next-generation clean energy vehicles
A Northwestern University research team has designed and synthesized new materials with ultrahigh porosity and surface area for the storage of hydrogen and methane for fuel cell-powered vehicles.

New material developed could help clean energy revolution
Researchers developed a promising graphene-carbon nanotube catalyst, giving them better control over hugely important chemical reactions for producing green technology and clean energy

The uncertain role of natural gas in the transition to clean energy
A new MIT study examines the opposing roles of natural gas in the battle against climate change -- as a bridge toward a lower-emissions future, but also a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

As China rapidly adopts clean energy, use of traditional stoves persists
Old habits are hard to break. A McGill-led study of replacement of traditional wood and coal burning stoves with clean energy in China suggests that, without a better understanding of the reasons behind people's reluctance to give up traditional stoves, it will be difficult for policies in China and elsewhere in the world to succeed in encouraging this shift towards clean energy.

Bionic catalysts to produce clean energy
A biohybrid material that combines reduced graphene oxide with bacterial cells offers an eco-friendly option to help store renewable energy.

Speeding up the journey towards clean energy through photocatalyst optimization
Osaka University researchers studied the photocatalytic activity of oxyhalide materials and were able to demonstrate a relationship between parameters measured by time-resolved microwave conductivity (TRMC) and oxygen generation.

A step for a promising new battery to store clean energy
Researchers have built a more efficient, more reliable potassium-oxygen battery, a step toward a potential solution for energy storage on the nation's power grid and longer-lasting batteries in cell phones and laptops.

Read More: Clean Energy News and Clean Energy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.