PublicationJournal Article Exploring the Enabling Environments, Inherent Characteristics and Intrinsic Motivations Fostering Global Electricity Decarbonization

November 14, 2019
Publication Type:
Journal Article

The need for tran­si­tion­ing towards low-​​carbon energy sys­tems, and the recent boom in avail­able data, allows for a con­stant re-​​evaluation of global elec­tric­ity sec­tor decar­boniza­tion progress, and its under­ly­ing the­o­ret­i­cal assump­tions. Arguably, the exist­ing decar­boniza­tion lit­er­a­ture and insti­tu­tional sup­port frame­works focus on top-​​down sup­ply side mech­a­nisms, where poli­cies, goals, access to financ­ing, and tech­nol­ogy inno­va­tion are sug­gested as the main dri­vers. Here, we syn­the­size eleven global datasets that range from elec­tric­ity decar­boniza­tion progress, to qual­ity of gov­er­nance, to inter­na­tional fos­sil fuel sub­si­dies, and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies, among sev­eral oth­ers, and use meth­ods from data min­ing to explore the fac­tors that may be fos­ter­ing or hin­der­ing decar­boniza­tion progress. This exer­cise allows us to present numer­ous hypothe­ses worth explor­ing in future research. Some of these hypothe­ses sug­gest that poli­cies might be inef­fec­tive when mis­aligned with coun­try spe­cific moti­va­tors and inher­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics, that even in the absence of pol­icy there are par­tic­u­lar inher­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics that fos­ter decar­boniza­tion progress (e.g., rel­a­tively high local energy prices, for­eign energy import depen­dency and the absence of a large extrac­tive resource base), and that the inter­ac­tion ofcountry-​​specific enabling envi­ron­ments, inher­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics, and moti­va­tions is what deter­mines decar­boniza­tion progress, rather than stand-​​alone sup­port mech­a­nisms. We present the hypoth­e­sis that existin gsup­port mech­a­nisms for decar­boniza­tion may be rely­ing too much on blan­ket strate­gies (e.g., poli­cies, targets),and that there is a need for sup­port mech­a­nisms that encom­pass a wider diver­sity of country-​​specific under­ly­ing conditions.

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