James Meadowcroft

James Meadowcroft, SPPA Chancellor’s Professor

SPPA’s James Meadowcroft and Daniel Rosenbloom (University of Toronto) recently published their paper Governing the net-zero transition: Strategy, policy, and politics  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Volume 120, Issue 47, November 2023.  DOI 10.1073/pnas.2207727120).


This paper applies insights from the literature on transitions in major consumption-production systems to clarify the nature of the challenge of moving to a net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission society. It highlights critical features of transitions including their multiactor/multicausal logic, phased development, and distributive impacts. Because current systems are so dependent on fossil energy resources, and on GHG-emitting industrial processes and agricultural practices, multiple transitions across a range of distinct consumption-production systems will be required for net zero. The transformation of each system faces different barriers and enabling conditions and is influenced by varied nonclimate-related disruptions. Important policy implications follow, including the need to focus on sector and regional transitions, link climate policy to other societal goals, and adopt policy mixes appropriate to the transition phase. The article discusses recent policy and politics-related findings from the transitions literatures including those dealing with policy mixes, transition intermediaries, and green industrial policy.

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