The Politics of low carbon transitions – protected niches, actors networks, narratives and changing contexts
Florian Kern, Adrian Smith, Rob Raven and Bram Verhees
Understanding how to move towards more sustainable societies is a key challenge for analysts, civil society organisations and policy makers alike. The literature on sustainability transitions indicates an important role for niche activities which have the potential to overturn or green incumbent socio-technical regimes. In the context of climate change, many advocates and policy makers put a lot of hope in renewable energy technologies like solar photovoltaics and offshore wind. These technologies are not (yet) competitive under ‘normal’ selection environments and therefore require ‘protective space’ to improve their performance, reduce costs, enable the growth of supportive actor networks, etc. Which niches receive this kind of protection, why and through which processes, is an interesting field of study for scholars interested in the politics of low carbon transitions. The paper argues that these processes can be usefully analysed by looking at actor networks, the discourses they mobilise and the way in which they strategically engage with changing energy and climate policy contexts. The paper reflects on empirical work on PV and offshore wind niche developments in the UK and the Netherlands and thereby makes a contribution to the emerging literature on the governance of low carbon transitions.
Presentation: download here – Kern_F -Panel 2
Paper: download here – Panel 2 -Kern et al_the politics of low carbon transitions_IGov
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