The political economy of clean energy.

Author:Arndt, Channing
Position:Policy brief


The more inclusive approach of [COP.sub.21] represented a new era in climate negotiations, one in which developing countries will play a significant role

The rapid pace of technological renewable energy technologies is in the process of influencing the political economy of clean energy transitions

A clean energy transition is not necessarily an impediment to the growth aspirations of the developing world

In broad terms, the climate challenge is relatively straightforward. Global average temperatures are rising because of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. Continuation of current levels of emissions or (worse) continued growth in emissions throughout the twenty-first century could result in warming far above the two-degree Celsius threshold with very dangerous implications for the environment of the planet and for human societies, particularly poor people.

A clean energy transition is unlikely to occur on its own. Policies must be put in place that will foment a clean energy transition, and these policies must be effective globally (as opposed to just shifting emissions from one region to another). Political economy considerations will be key to ensuring that governments around the world implement policies and programmes that achieve the necessary global emissions reductions. Three key areas that effect the political economy of climate change are global negotiations, technology and the relationship between developing and developed countries.

A new era of climate change negotiations

[COP.sub.21] represented a fundamental shift in the negotiation framework surrounding climate change mitigation. At [COP.sub.15], the negotiations retained a 'top-down' approach wherein a global emissions trajectory was determined, and negotiators sought to parse country-level responsibilities for achieving this path. In contrast, [COP.sub.21] in Paris employed a 'bottom-up' offer system, wherein individual countries propose what they perceive to be achievable and fair emissions trajectories for their circumstances.

Further, at [COP.sub.21] developing countries came to the table much better prepared. It would be an overstatement to say today that climate change information has been fully internalized and appropriate policies assessed in developing countries. Nevertheless, the process of doing so is much more advanced than it was in 2009. In country after country, the central decision-making units have engaged. This is critical. The profound...

To continue reading