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
Megalopolis Case Study
The Megalopolis region in Greece is a coal and carbon intensive region, in which a large proportion of the economically active population is occupied in the lignite mining and power generation sector. Megalopolis is highly affected by the ongoing transition of the Greek energy system in the framework of the implementation of the governmental lignite phase-out plan. According to this plan, the two operational lignite power plants in Megalopolis will be decommissioned by 2023. A comprehensive Just Transition Master Plan was prepared by the Greek Government for Megalopolis emphasizing that the future development of Megalopolis should be mainly based on four pillars: i. Clean Energy, ii. Industry and Trade, iii. Smart agricultural production, iv. Sustainable Tourism. However, according to the ongoing analysis and stakeholder engagement conducted within the TIPPING+ project, critical concerns are raised regarding the strict timeframe of the Just Transition Plan, the spatial planning for Megalopolis, the local community participation in the preparation of the Master Plan and the planned investements, in view of a green just energy transition.
Using network analysis, narrative analysis and participatory sustainability assessment workshops, we examine alternative visions, transformative capacities and agents' modes of interactions which could tip the current energy systems in two Indonesian localities of Banten and Bali towards clean energy futures. In Banten and Bali, we will focus on identifying the alternative pathways of the industry sector and rural areas, respectively. Also, we aim to pinpoint who will be the transformative agents.
Sulcis, Sardinia Case Study
The Sulcis region, in South Sardinia, is the most emblematic coal and carbon-intensive region in Italy. Its territorial, infrastructural and socio-economic development has been historically characterized by a significant reliance on mining activities and large metal industrial clusters for work employment, and on coal for energy generation. Multiple crises affected these sectors, especially starting from the early 2000s, with the closure of several industries coinciding with high rates of unemployment and socio-political struggles to define the regional development trajectory. Nowadays, the region is still largely dependent on industry employment and coal-fired energy generation, while the coal phase-out is foreseen by 2025, putting in crisis the whole regional industry and energy security. Despite numerous and consistent political and financial interventions (e.g. Piano Sulcis, Just Transition Mechanism), the region is experiencing difficulties in envisioning and planning an alternative sustainable development, suffering the contrast between a collective memory and identity that rely upon an industrial myth and well-being, and the current difficulties of collocating itself in a different development path. In this case study, we address path dependence and carbon lock-in analyzing the socio-psychological patterns and dynamics that undermined and currently affect the effectiveness of policy interventions for systemic transformation. Based on narrative interviews with stakeholders and longitudinal analysis of newspaper articles from national, regional, and local press, we explore how psychosocial factors such as identity, justice perception, and ideologies contribute to sustaining carbon lock-in and how it can be deliberatively destabilized.
Small Islands - Carloforte, San Pietro Island Case Study
Starting from a geographically marginal site, the San Pietro Island, in front of the Sulcis region, we discuss the whole functional region's boundaries. We analyse a strong local community's identity, the Carloforte's one, which diversifies herself from the industrial Sulcis under a number of point of view (namely symbolically, economically and politically). Using the local differentiation processes and rhetoric about renewable energy's related artefacts (solar implantations, wind power plants), we investigate if this cultural difference is a resource or a barrier toward a positive tipping point. We do it by using socio-anthropological and cultural psychology's methodologies such as ethnography, direct observation, unstructured interviews with locals and discourse analysis.
Elena Apostoli Capello
LoVeSe Case Study
This study examines the decision not to drill for oil in the Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja coastal regions of northern Norway, despite mounting pressures for increased Arctic drilling. Our goal is to understand how a seemingly locked-in development pathway towards a petroleum future “tipped over” to an alternative, low-carbon trajectory. Our primary objectives are three-fold: 1) identify and assess specific “tipping points” that occurred during the period of 2000-2020, 2) understand how alternative visions of an “oil free” future materialized in the coastal region of Lofoten, and 3) analyze the potential of specific outcomes and conditions from the LoVeSe dispute, such as the “Lofoten Green Islands” initiative, to successfully transition from carbon-intensive pathways and foster lasting lock-in of decarbonizing trajectories.
Svalbard Case Study
This study focuses on Longyearbyen, Svalbard, where the concrete challenge of decarbonisation moves closer as the local energy plant providing electricity will shut down in 2023. The decision to close the power plant has caused a substantial decrease in the demand for coal, and has thus made coal mining uneconomical, which has led to the closure of all Norwegian mining activity in Svalbard. At present, the discussion has revolved around both what energy source will substitute coal and what industries will substitute coal mining in Svalbard. The political landscape, governance structure and demographic characteristics of Svalbard make it a unique context upon which to investigate the emergence of tipping points and new pathways in sustainability transitions. This study seeks to shed light on how society and the economy respond to the cessation of coal, with lessons for the rest of the world seeking pathways into the post-carbon economy and culture.
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.
Aragon - Teruel Case Study
Teruel is a traditional and "typical" coal-intensive region whose Thermal Power Plant has recently been closed. The regional Energy transition has created a window of opportunity for systemic transformation but the success of it depends on whether the EU and national funds take into account Just Transition criteria which take into account cultural factors. If successful this could also revert and positively affect current negative demographic trends.
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.