Presentation: Being Specific about the Politics of Low Carbon Transitions
From: Caroline Kuzemko
To: Research Meeting with Earth and Environment Group at Leeds University
Download Presenation: CK-Leeds-16-05-13
Socio-technical transitions literatures can tell us a great deal about how complex, dynamic systems transition – partly through the analysis of previous large-scale, industrial transitions. One key insight from STT literatures is that governance, and specifically policies that can help to incubate and support technological innovations, is important to low carbon transition. The politics of energy system change, towards a lower carbon future, is however not at all straight forward – politics has in many respects acted as a constraint on transition more often than it has facilitated change.
This presentation applies a framework based on STT and sociological and historical institutionalism to UK energy and climate governance in order to provide specific and contextual explanations of change. It argues that in order to explore and understand the politics of low carbon energy transition specific understandings need to be formulated: both of how energy interacts with other political institutions and of how energy policy is itself constituted. Other political institutions, for example the neoliberal economic policy paradigm, have constrained and coloured change even given specific renewable energy targets. This has partly to do with how this paradigm has over time structured power relationships in the UK between government and private institutions (or states and markets). Energy policy, on the other hand, is now formulated with three different objectives in mind – each in turn based on a different conceptualisation of energy, its function in society, and how it should be governed. This energy security-climate nexus has interacted with the neoliberal economic policy paradigm to create a highly complex and fast changing energy governance system – that has so far afforded little support for low carbon technologies or, indeed, other climate change targets.