Evolutionary Economics and Environmental Policy

Evolutionary Economics and Environmental Policy

Survival of the Greenest

New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series

Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh, Albert Faber, Annemarth M. Idenburg and Frans H. Oosterhuis

This study offers a unique evolutionary economics perspective on energy and innovation policies in the wider context of the transition to sustainable development.

Chapter 3: Environmental Policy and Transition Management from an Evolutionary Perspective

Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh, Albert Faber, Annemarth M. Idenburg and Frans H. Oosterhuis

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, evolutionary economics, environment, environmental economics


3.1 INTRODUCTION The evolutionary concepts and insights described in Chapter 2 will be translated in this chapter into suggestions for environmental policy and transition management. To illustrate the relevant principles and instruments, we will focus in particular on the transition to sustainable energy. The complexity of the energy system means that a great variety of scenarios can be sketched on the basis of any relevant combination of elements, such as degree of (de)centralization, energy source, energy carrier, technology and the extent of system integration. Through backcasting, the paths leading to these static scenarios can be derived, which in turn suggest policies that set adequate conditions for innovation and the selection environment. The notion of ‘transition’ has its origins in population dynamics, so it ties in well with the evolutionary concepts that are used in this book (see also Kemp, 1997; Rotmans et al., 2001; Geels, 2002a, b). A social transition can be defined as ‘a gradual and ongoing process of social change, leading to structural changes in society (or a complex subsystem thereof)’ (Rotmans et al., 2000). Transitions thus actually represent system changes. They closely relate to system innovations as perceived in the literature on technological change. Various features and classifications of social and technological transitions frequently appear in the literature on sustainability and technological change. From a temporal perspective transitions can be said to consist of the temporal phases pre-development, take-off, acceleration and stabilization. In addition, most transitions comprise changes at various spatial or system...

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