Journal Article

The Politics of Accelerating Low-Carbon Transitions: Towards a New Research Agenda

Published on 1 October 2018

Meeting the climate change targets in the Paris Agreement implies a substantial and rapid acceleration of low-carbon transitions.

Combining insights from political science, policy analysis and socio-technical transition studies, this paper addresses the politics of deliberate acceleration by taking stock of emerging examples, mobilising relevant theoretical approaches, and articulating a new research agenda. Going beyond routine appeals for more ‘political will’, it organises ideas and examples under three themes: 1) the role of coalitions in supporting and hindering acceleration; 2) the role of feedbacks, through which policies may shape actor preferences which, in turn, create stronger policies; and 3) the role of broader contexts (political economies, institutions, cultural norms, and technical systems) in creating more (or less) favourable conditions for deliberate acceleration. We discuss the importance of each theme, briefly review previous research and articulate new research questions. Our concluding section discusses the current and potential future relationship between transitions theory and political science.

Cite this publication

Roberts, C.Geels, F. W.Lockwood, M.Newell, P.Schmitz, H.Turnheim, B. and Jordan, A. (2018) 'The politics of accelerating low-carbon transitions: towards a new research agenda' Energy Research & Social Science 44: 304-311, ISSN: 2214-6296


Matthew Lockwood

Honorary Associate

Hubert Schmitz

Emeritus Fellow

Cameron Roberts
Frank W. Geels
Peter Newell
Bruno Turnheim
Andrew Jordan

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