External Publications

July 11, 2021

Are we at risk of an uneven low-carbon transition?

Assessing evidence from a mixed-method elite study
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Solar panels in Offingen, Germany.
Solar panels in Offingen, Germany.

Uneven access to low carbon finance and technology may give rise to energy transition frontrunners and laggards. This article offers a first conceptualization of the risks of an uneven energy transition and its implications for the international political economy and corroborates those with an empirical investigation of elite risk perceptions in the energy industry and finance sector. The multi-method approach combines descriptive survey data with a multinomial logistic regression testing for different expert risk perceptions between sectors, complemented by a set of qualitative interviews. The findings suggest that uneven transition patterns increase the risks of economic instability and decrease the competitiveness of ‘late decarbonizers’. Feedback cycles might impede the latter to catch up, with potentially severe consequences for global equity and international tensions. Countries particularly in the Global South are exposed to higher transition risks than technology-leading economies of the Global North. With this, the paper highlights the importance of relative timing for the implementation of energy transition policies.

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This text was first published by IASS Potsdam in July 2021

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