How can the energy transition be organized in a globally just way? Will developing countries struggle to transition to clean energy because they do not have the financial and technical means? A new Policy Brief by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) focuses on the risks of an uneven transition and makes concrete proposals to stop such risks.
In their Policy Brief “Countering the chance of an uneven Energy Transition Explained,” the authors Laima Eicke, Silvia Weko and Prof. Andreas Goldthau through the IASS write that meeting the technological and financial prerequisites to get a global energy transition is essential. Otherwise there exists a danger that developing countries will not be able to have the change to more eco-friendly energy systems and then lag behind within the energy transition — with far-reaching consequences on their own and the rest of the world. On the one hand, a surge in global carbon emissions may have a poor global effect. On the other, late-transitioning countries would be more prone to political instability and financial meltdown.
For instance, countries that are not able to phase out non-renewable fuels quickly enough are vulnerable to being excluded from international trade and value chains. It is because in a decarbonising global economy, the carbon content of products will end up a key point for determining market access, and latecomers risk being left behind. The resulting injury to their economies may be sustained.
COP25 being a stepping-stone to your global energy transition strategy
To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, all countries needs to have equal chances to decarbonise their economies — and consistent strategies are required for your to occur. As Laima Eicke, one of the study’s authors, highlights: “In the event the gap between early- and late-decarbonising countries widens, so too might the chance of disagreements, further slowing the transition.” To stop that scenario, many countries need commitments for financial and technical assistance to accelerate their energy transition processes to the degree required by the Paris Agreement.
The Meetings in the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, which include representatives of varied government levels as well as the private sector and investors, might open further space for these particular discussions at COP25.
Other international platforms, bilateral programmes, and private actors can also play a vital role. Initiatives like the NDC Partnership highlight the chance of aligning the activities of multiple actors in specific country contexts.
Steps should also be utilized to coordinate the principles and practices of financial actors across all countries. COP25 in Madrid could serve being a stepping-stone to consistent strategies, which is crucial for developing countries because they update their NDCs in 2020 and for efforts to close the ambition gap.
The authors’ three recommendations:
1. Policy debates on ‘just transitions’ focus on the implications of phasing out non-renewable fuels from national energy mixes. Yet there are distributional effects of a global energy transition specifically for developing countries that lack financial and technological way to transition, creating structural risks. Acknowledging this global dimension of just transitions at the UNFCCC may help to create alliances for climate action.
2. Technology transfer initiatives can accelerate the diffusion of low-carbon energy technologies. Yet only a third of existing initiatives give attention to transferring skills, expertise and technology simultaneously. To ensure the vaaelo of a global energy transition, tech transfer should be targeted and comprehensive.
3. COP25 should coordinate a consistent strategy among financial actors to shift financial flows for energy transitions within the Global South. Common guidelines for long-term risk assessments plus an exchange of best practices for capacity development could leverage ambition within the 2020 NDC updating processes.