TIPPING+ will carry out a systematic and comparative analysis of 20 case studies of European CCIRs (including Greenland), complemented with other non-European international cases in Australia, Canada and Indonesia. Thus, the main focus and unit of analysis of TIPPING+ are regional social-ecological systems heavily dependent on fossil fuel industries or the extraction of fossil fuels themselves.
TIPPING+ case studies will assess the various original regional social-ecological systems’ conditions, concentrating on trends and dynamics, which have occurred during the last decade with regard to transitioning away from carbon dependency. Main purpose is to identify whether, why and how a particular SETP occurred or is likely to occur in that region, and if so, which effects can be analysed and identified concerning the sustainability of regional economies and livelihoods.
The project case studies have been selected to ensure a wide representation, diversity and inclusion of sociocultural, demographic, geographical, political and economic factors potentially affecting SETPs towards clean energy transitions in CCIRs.
Upper Austria is one of the country’s most dynamic business and industry regions, including steel production and chemical industry. Some first steps have been made toward decarbonisation of the industry, such as a demonstration site for hydrogen-based steel production. The aim is to investigate how to accelerate this development towards achieving a positive tipping point in these sectors, including the most effective tipping interventions taking into account existing socio-economic trends.
An analysis of the social drivers, potentials for the emergence of Social Ecological Tipping Points (SETPs), and socio-economic and cultural factors related to transitioning of energy systems, including their impacts on migration, will be investigated in the following two regional energy systems and domains: (1) The potential decarbonisation of electricity production in the entity Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, (2) The transformation from coal-intensive heating to clean biomass in the entity of Republic of Srpska.
Two cases will be explored in the Czech Republic: (1) Moravian-Silesian Region: identification of current socioeconomic trends, challenges and barriers of energy transition. Research will be based on the acquisition, sorting and classification of the relevant statistical data representing socioeconomic, demographic, environmental and other TIPPING+ indicators at different spatial levels. (2) South-Moravian Region: multiple-cases comparative analysis of selected projects (“best practices”) of successful energy transition and revitalization of coal mining landscapes will be carried out.
Comparative analysis of policy responses to the closing of West and East German coal mines, and the effects of the response strategies, on the economy, society, demographics and politics. This includes the analysis from a Public Policy perspective of the effects of political decisions on the regional competitiveness and capacities, in order to support the transition phase from an old concentrated economy to a potentially prosperous low-carbon clean energy future; or conversely, for the case of negative tipping points, leading to an increase in social problems and socio-economic weakness of these regions.
Greenland will be taken as a regional socio-energy system with potentially diverting tipping points in the near future, both positive and/or negative. Greenland is implementing hydropower solutions for electricity supply in most towns and experimenting with solar and wind power for smaller settlements to replace fuel-based energy supply. However, there are also expectations that huge oil deposits are located off- and onshore in Greenland, and there is a national interest in promoting extraction with international companies interested in accessing theses deposits.
Anne Merrild Hansen
The Megalopolis region in Greece, is an upstream and downstream carbon intensive region with high dependence on lignite mining and lignite power plants, which occupy a large proportion of the economically active population. The study will investigate which multi-disciplinary factors have caused the carbon-dependency of the region, as well as, which sectors and which multi-disciplinary factors are expected to be affected by the closing down of lignite power plants.
Two cases to be explored: (1) Coal in Indonesia and its international interactions as well as socio-economic and environmental effects. Indonesia is the second largest exporter of coal globally and relies heavily on coal for its transport and power needs. (2) Biogas in Indonesia: A comprehensively researched and rapidly spreading source of sustainable energy in Indonesia is household biogas. This study will generate biogas diffusion and macroeconomic models in order to understand the determinants and dynamics of the diffusion of household level biogas installations in Indonesia, social behaviour of end-users, and alternative pathways to accelerate biogas technology diffusion in other regions of the country.
Two cases will be carried out: (1a)The anticipated closure of the last coal mine due to the national policy of phase-out involves workers in securing underground infrastructure and surface area and repurposing the site with renewable energy and R&D activities. (1b) The closure of coal-fired power plants close to energy-intensive industrial areas is accompanied by projects of reconversion and re-industrialization with sustainable innovations inspired by the "circular economy”. (2) the Italian National Energy Strategy 2017 plans to completely phase out coal by 2025. The substitution of coal is foreseen, overestimating gas needs and underestimating renewables, with investments in new infrastructures for fossil fuels (i.e. natural gas) and the risk of locking-in the Sardinian energy system by creating inertial dependence to fossil fuels.
Two cases focusing on geographical and social-ecological interactions regarding the following regional energy systems (1) Longyearbyen, Svalbard, where the concrete challenge of decarbonisation moves closer as the coal mine and thus the coal energy plant providing electricity will shut down. Here, transformative, post-carbon initiatives become entangled in broader discussions on ecology, environmentalism, geopolitics and what constitutes a viable trajectory towards building a desirable future for the community. (2) The Norwegian petroleum shelf specifically focuses on the basis for and challenge now arising to the Norwegian petroleum ontology, i.e. the narrative underscoring the political argument the future of Norway is closely connected to a continuation of the extraction of fossil fuels. Recent developments suggest that some SETPs have already passed; such as the decision not to drill in the Lofoten, Vesterålen, and Senja region but also that the narrative still represents a potential future trajectory potentially detrimental to post-carbon initiatives.
An examination of social innovation initiatives in a former coal extractive region. This will include an integrated socioeconomic assessment based on financial requirements and new investment opportunities of the industrial reconversion of 500 former miners into the development of renewable energies, namely wind power, with a potential positive effect on the improvement of the livelihoods of 5.000 people living in the Jiu Valley region.
Two cases regarding: (1) Analyses of the role of social innovation and innovative local policies and responses, including social-ecological restoration policies in former coal-mining regions in Spain (Aragon, Asturias and Castile-León) with a focus on the role of the young, women and green entrepreneurs’ networks in developing green growth solutions, green jobs related to renewable energy solutions and sustainability businesses. (2) A case of positive tipping point exploring the socio-technological process which is making it possible to turn El Hierro Island (Canary Islands) 100% electricity-based on renewable energies thus phasing out coal.
Silesia – the largest EU hard coal region with long-standing industrial tradition – is at the tipping point of transformation. The government accommodated decarbonisation pathway which is changing a political economy of the country: coal mines and power plants will be replaced by on-shore and off-shore wind turbines, modern gas and nuclear blocks mostly outside the region. Morevoer, COVID-19 pandemic also weakened the demand for coal in the energy system and increased financial losses of state-led mining companies. At the time of the project, the government has tried to explain new energy ambitions to trade unions and coal miners, which still remains meaningful labour and political force, how to conduct a transformation without losing energy security and well-paid jobs.
In the project, IBS will carry out two case studies:
- structural analysis of labour market implications of coal transition on employment, unemployment, including long-term unemployment, worker flows, and their distributional aspects.
- quantitative study on tipping points in populism and anti-democratic attitudes and its relations to energy transitions and clean energy scepticism.
TIPPING+ will analyse the carbon-intensive sectors in Canada, Australia and Southeast and South Asian countries (through the project’s affiliated partners).
Canada: exploration of the transitions the oil sand is facing, the attempts to save the industry through energy efficiency technologies and carbon capture and storage, as well as the rise of new technologies potentially geothermal for abandoned wells and policies to support renewable energy generation.
Luis D. Virla
- Australia, the Latrobe Valley: exploration of the closure of major coal-fired power stations and the impacts on local economies and the positive transitions to renewable energy at large and smaller scales; socioeconomic and ecological regeneration at local levels.
- Southeast and South Asian countries(Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan): A desk research to investigate ‘negative tipping context’, for ‘coal lock-ins’ in the emerging Asian countries. This research will provide a better understanding of the socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distant energy systems (‘energy telecoupling’), exploring the contexts of interactions and interventions between developing and developed countries.