Challenging the Path Dependence of Dominant Energy Systems
Edited by William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud
Chapter 1: Introduction: Promoting Green Electricity in Europe: The Challenge of Integrating Contextual Factors
William M. Laﬀerty and Audun Ruud Energy is what makes Europe tick. It is essential, then, for the European Union (EU) to address the major energy challenges facing us today, i.e. climate change, our increasing dependence on imports, the strain on energy resources and access for all users to aﬀordable, secure energy. The EU is putting in place an ambitious energy policy – covering the full range of energy sources from fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) to nuclear energy and renewables (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro-electric and tidal) – in a bid to spark a new industrial revolution that will deliver a low-energy economy, whilst making the energy we do consume more secure, competitive and sustainable. (Activities of the European Union: Summaries of legislation, EC 2007) PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH GREEN ELECTRICITY The goal of pursuing sustainable development (SD) in Europe has been given top priority by the decision-making bodies of the European Union. At the highest level of political generalization, the task is viewed as a question of balance between the so-called Gothenburg and Lisbon agendas. While the former enunciates values, principles and policies designed to achieve a radically new form of development – a path where both economic and social aspirations are accommodated to environmental concerns – the latter aims to make Europe a more competitive, ﬂexible and knowledge-based economy. The diﬀerence between the two paths was highlighted by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, with an analogy to the family. Defending his particular emphasis...