Globalizing Carbon Lock-In
Energy Policy, 2006, 34 (10): 1185-1197
Posted: 7 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2006
This paper extends the arguments surrounding carbon lock-in elaborated in Unruh (Energy Policy 28 (2000) 817; 30 (2002) 317) to countries currently undergoing industrialization. It argues that, for numerous reasons, industrializing countries are unlikely to leapfrog carbon intensive energy development. On the contrary, carbon lock-in may be globalizing and could further constrain climate change mitigation options. It is then argued that many policy recommendations ignore carbon lock-in, possibly limiting their potential for successful implementation. The paper then discusses four policy approaches that appear to have advantages given lockin conditions. It is recognized, however, that relative ease of implementation does not necessarily equate with superiority. Instead, it is merely a path dependent outcome of past development decisions. Pursuing policies on the basis of relative implementation ease may help address the issue of climate change, but could also result in sub-optimal outcomes along other dimensions of sustainable development.
Keywords: Carbon lock-in, Leapfrogging, Developing economies
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