Politics and power in low-carbon electricity transitions: A multi-level analysis of green niche-innovations and resilient regimes
Frank Geels – University of Manchester
This paper aims to draw the attention of social theorists to the topic of transitions in socio-technical systems. This topic has great promise for debates on climate change, peak oil and wider sustainability challenges, which require shifts to new energy systems, food systems and mobility systems. Socio-technical transitions are not just technological and economic processes, but also entail political power struggles and cultural discourses. The paper introduces the multi-level perspective on transitions and illustrates its usefulness with an empirical analysis of low-carbon transitions in the electricity domain. This analysis focuses not just on green niche-innovations (wind, solar), but also on the resilience of incumbent regimes in the UK (coal, gas, nuclear). Further discussion highlights three ways in which politics and power play out in low-carbon energy transitions: normal politics, agenda-setting, and structural power.
Presentation: download here – Geels_F – Panel 2
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