To limit dangerous global warming, the world must transition to a low-carbon economy. But this energy transition is moving too slowly – not because of a lack in technology or public support, but because of social, political, and technical barriers.
These interwoven barriers form the foundation of “carbon lock-in”, whereby ongoing investment in fossil fuel development becomes self-reinforcing and, consequently, inhibits the growth of the new green economy. Reducing global emissions requires that we address and “unlock” this entrenched high-carbon system.
The SEI Initiative on Carbon Lock-In aims to bring this issue to the forefront of climate and energy policy-making. Research will reveal how and why carbon lock-in is perpetuated – both within countries and globally – and will identify policies and strategies to break dependence on high-carbon industries. This initiative will also explore how international regimes, such as the UN Framework on Climate Change, can guide the transition away from fossil fuels.
This initiative takes a multidisciplinary approach, combining expertise on energy systems, economics, sociology, political science and health to answer a crucial question: How can society tackle carbon lock-in, and make space for a low-carbon future?
War, pandemic and the growing threat of climate change make the need to invest in energy efficiency all the more urgent. The technology already exists.
The 2021 report reveals that countries' fossil fuel production plans remain dangerously out of sync with the limits consistent with the Paris Agreement.