How can the energy transition be organized in a globally just way? Will developing countries find it difficult to transition to clean energy because they lack the financial and technical means? A new Policy Brief by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) focuses on the hazards of an uneven transition and makes concrete proposals to prevent such risks.

Inside their Policy Brief “Countering the chance of an uneven Energy Transition Holland,” the authors Laima Eicke, Silvia Weko and Prof. Andreas Goldthau through the IASS write that meeting the technological and financial prerequisites for any global energy transition is essential. Otherwise there exists a danger that developing countries will struggle to have the change to more eco friendly energy systems and continue to lag behind in the energy transition — with far-reaching consequences on their own as well as the rest around the globe. On the one hand, a surge in global carbon emissions could have a negative global effect. On the other, late-transitioning countries would be more susceptible to political instability and financial crisis.

For example, countries that are not able to phase out fossil fuels quickly enough are in danger of being excluded from international trade and value chains. It is because in a decarbonising global economy, the carbon content of items can become a key factor for determining market access, and latecomers risk being left behind. The resulting injury to their economies might be sustained.

COP25 as being a stepping-stone to a global energy transition strategy

To limit climatic change to 1.5 degrees Celsius, all countries should have equal opportunities to decarbonise their economies — and consistent strategies are needed for your to take place. As Laima Eicke, one of many study’s authors, points out: “If the gap between early- and late-decarbonising countries widens, so too might the potential for disagreements, further slowing the transition.” To avoid that scenario, many countries need commitments for financial and technical help to speed up their energy transition processes to the degree essental to the Paris Agreement.

The Meetings of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, including representatives of numerous government levels as well because the private sector and investors, might open further space for these discussions at COP25.

Other international platforms, bilateral programmes, and private actors can also play a crucial role. Initiatives like the NDC Partnership highlight the potential for aligning the activities of multiple actors in specific country contexts.

Steps also must be taken to coordinate the principles and practices of financial actors across all countries. COP25 in Madrid could serve as being a stepping-stone to consistent strategies, that will be crucial for developing countries as they update their NDCs in 2020 as well as 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 you will find distributional effects of a worldwide energy transition particularly for developing countries that lack financial and technological means to transition, creating structural risks. Acknowledging this global dimension of just transitions at the UNFCCC may assist to create alliances for climate action.

2. Technology transfer initiatives can accelerate the diffusion of low-carbon energy technologies. Yet merely a third of existing initiatives focus on transferring skills, expertise and technology simultaneously. To guarantee the vaaelo of a global energy transition, tech transfer has to be targeted and comprehensive.

3. COP25 should coordinate a regular strategy among financial actors to shift financial flows for energy transitions in the Global South. Common guidelines for long-term risk assessments and an exchange of best practices for capacity development could leverage ambition inside the 2020 NDC updating processes.

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