Narratives of Low-Carbon Transitions (Open Access): Understanding Risks and Uncertainties, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Narratives of Low-Carbon Transitions (Open Access)

Understanding Risks and Uncertainties, 1st Edition

Edited by Susanne Hanger-Kopp, Jenny Lieu, Alexandros Nikas


276 pages | 34 B/W Illus.

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*Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license

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Hardback: 9781138311589
pub: 2019-03-04

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This book examines the uncertainties underlying various strategies for a low-carbon future. Most prominently, such strategies relate to transitions in the energy sector, on both the supply and the demand side. At the same time they interact with other sectors, such as industrial production, transport, and building, and ultimately require new behaviour patterns at household and individual levels. Currently, much research is available on the effectiveness of these strategies but, in order to successfully implement comprehensive transition pathways, it is crucial not only to understand the benefits but also the risks.

Filling this gap, this volume provides an interdisciplinary, conceptual framework to assess risks and uncertainties associated with low-carbon policies and applies this consistently across 11 country cases from around the world, illustrating alternative transition pathways in various contexts. The cases are presented as narratives, drawing on stakeholder-driven research efforts. They showcase diverse empirical evidence reflecting the complex challenges to and potential negative consequences of such pathways. Together, they enable the reader to draw valuable lessons on the risks and uncertainties associated with choosing the envisaged transition pathways, as well as ways to manage the implementation of these pathways and ultimately enable sustainable and lasting social and environmental effects.

This book will be of great interest to students, scholars, and practitioners of environmental and energy policy, low-carbon transitions, renewable energy technologies, climate change action, and sustainability in general.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

Notes on contributors

Preface and acknowledgements

Part I: Setting the stage

1. Introduction

Susanne Hanger-Kopp, Jenny Lieu, and Alexandros Nikas

2. Framing risks and uncertainties associated with low-carbon pathways

Susanne Hanger-Kopp, Alexandros Nikas, Jenny Lieu

Part II: Pathways for incumbent large-scale technology systems

3. Austria: co-designing a low-carbon transition pathway focusing on energy supply for the iron and steel sector

Brigitte Wolkinger, Jakob Mayer, Andreas Tuerk, Gabriel Bachner, and Karl Steininger

4. Canada: finding common ground - the need for plural voices in lower-carbon futures of the Alberta oil sands

Luis D. Virla, Jenny Lieu, and Cecilia Fitzpatrick

5. United Kingdom: pathways towards a low-carbon electricity system – nuclear expansion versus nuclear phase out

Rocío Alvarez-Tinoco, Michele Stua, and Gordon MacKerron

Part III: Pathways towards renewable electricity systems

6. Chile: promoting renewable energy and the risk of energy poverty in Chile

Luis E. Gonzales Carrasco and Rodrigo Cerda

7. The Netherlands: expanding solar PV – risk and uncertainties associated with small- and large-scale options

Krisztina de Bruyn-Szendrei, Wytze van der Gaast, and Eise Spijker

8. Spain: on a rollercoaster of regulatory change - risks and uncertainties associated with a renewable energy transition

Alevgul H. Sorman, Cristina Pizarro-Irizar, Xaquín García-Muros, Mikel González-Eguino, and Iñaki Arto

9. Switzerland: risks associated with implementing a national energy strategy

Oscar van Vliet

Part IV: Pathways towards energy-efficient building sectors

10. China: risks and uncertainties in low-carbon pathways for the urban building sector

Lei Song, Jenny Lieu, and Ying Chen

11. Greece: from near-term actions to long-term pathways - risks and uncertainties associated with the national energy efficiency framework

Alexandros Nikas, Nikolaos Gkonis, Aikaterini Forouli, Eleftherios Siskos, Apostolos Arsenopoulos, Aikaterini Papapostolou, Eleni Kanellou, Charikleia Karakosta, and Haris Doukas

Part V: Pathways focusing on renewable energy technologies at household and community levels

12. Indonesia: risks and uncertainties associated with biogas for cooking and electricity

Mariana Silaen, Yudiandra Yuwono, Richard Taylor, Tahia Devisscher, Syamsidar Thamrin, Cynthia Ismail, and Takeshi Takama

13. Kenya: risks and uncertainties around low-carbon energy pathways

Oliver W. Johnson, Hannah Wanjiru, Mbeo Ogeya, and Francis X. Johnson

Part VI:Synthesis.

14. Transition pathways, risks, and uncertainties

Jenny Lieu, Susanne Hanger-Kopp, Wytze van der Gaast, Richard Taylor and Ed Dearnley

Afterword: key insights on averarching risks across transition pathways


About the Editors

Susanne Hanger-Kopp is a researcher at the Institute for Environmental Decisions at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, and at the Risk and Resilience Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria.

Jenny Lieu is a research fellow at the University of Sussex, UK, and guest researcher at the Transdisciplinary Lap of the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.

Alexandros Nikas is a researcher at the Management & Decision Support Systems Laboratory of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Greece.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Energy Transitions

Considerable interest exists today in energy transitions. Whether one looks at diverse efforts to decarbonize, or strategies to improve the access levels, security and innovation in energy systems, one finds that change in energy systems is a prime priority.

Routledge Studies in Energy Transitions aims to advance the thinking which underlies these efforts. The series connects distinct lines of inquiry from planning and policy, engineering and the natural sciences, history of technology, STS, and management. In doing so, it provides primary references that function like a set of international, technical meetings. Single and co-authored monographs are welcome, as well as edited volumes relating to themes, like resilience and system risk.

Key focus areas: Technology change and fuel substitution, centralized-decentralized shifts, new business models and market redesign, innovation systems, governance levers/approaches or economics in transitions, etc. Writing on different types of energy transitions is encouraged. 

Dr. Kathleen Araújo is the Director of the Energy Policy Institute with the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a consortium of public universities, Idaho National Laboratory, and industry. She is also an Associate Professor in the School of Public Service at Boise State University, where she specializes in policy and innovation systems associated with energy transitions and industrial development.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for this series, please contact Annabelle Harris, Editor for Environment and Sustainability: [email protected]

Series Advisory Board

Morgan Bazilian, Columbia University, Center for Global Energy Policy (US)

Thomas Birkland, North Carolina State University (US)

Aleh Cherp, Central European University (CEU, Budapest) and Lund University

Mohamed El-Ashry, UN Foundation

Jose Goldemberg, Universidade de Sao Paolo (Brasil) and UN Development Program, World Energy Assessment

Michael Howlett, Simon Fraser University (Canada)

Jon Ingimarsson, Landsvirkjun, National Power Company (Iceland)

Michael Jefferson, ESCP Europe Business School

Jessica Jewell, IIASA (Austria)

Florian Kern, University of Sussex, Science Policy Research Unit and Sussex Energy Group (United Kingdom)

Derk Loorbach, DRIFT (Netherlands)

Jochen Markard, ETH (Switzerland)

Nabojsa Nakicenovic, IIASA (Austria)

Martin Pasqualetti, Arizona State University, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning (US)

Mark Radka, UN Environment Programme, Energy, Climate, and Technology

Rob Raven, Utrecht University (Netherlands)

Roberto Schaeffer, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Energy Planning Program, COPPE (Brasil)

Miranda Schreurs, Technische Universität Mūnchen, Bavarian School of Public Policy (Germany)

Vaclav Smil, University of Manitoba and Royal Society of Canada (Canada)

Benjamin Sovacool, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Science & Technology Policy
SCIENCE / Energy
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
SCIENCE / Global Warming & Climate Change