News Release

Why nations lead or lag in energy transitions

Reports and Proceedings

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

The Russia-Ukraine war has led to a global energy price shock, leading countries worldwide to respond in very different ways. Some are accelerating their transition to clean energy, while others are increasing domestic fossil fuel production. In a Policy Forum, Jonas Meckling and colleagues draw from two historical case studies illustrating variation in energy transitions across countries – the 1970s oil shocks and policies to address climate change – to better understand the political opportunities and constrains for policymakers across different countries to accelerate the transition to clean energy. According to Meckling et al., the analysis shows that countries can pursue one of three major paths to energy transition: transition through insulation (policymakers are shielded from political opposition), transition through compensation (policymakers ease the burden of adjustment for business and consumers), and transition through markets (policymakers step back and let economic markets drive the change). “Different political paths result in clean energy transitions at carrying pace. This should temper our expectations on common problems – such as price shocks and climate change – mobilizing countries across the globe for a clean energy future,” write Meckling et al. “At the same time, understanding these differences helps us target policy interventions more carefully to national opportunities and constraints.”

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