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Four scenarios of the energy transition. Drivers, consequences, and implications for geopolitics


Bazilian,  Morgan
External Organizations;

Bradshaw,  Michael
External Organizations;

Gabriel,  Johannes
External Organizations;


Goldthau,  Andreas
IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam;

Westphal,  Kirsten
External Organizations;

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Bazilian, M., Bradshaw, M., Gabriel, J., Goldthau, A., Westphal, K. (2020): Four scenarios of the energy transition. Drivers, consequences, and implications for geopolitics. - Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews - Climate Change, 11, 2, e625.

Cite as: https://publications.iass-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_4950890
This opinion article offers insights into the geopolitics of the ongoing global energy transition. In doing so, it draws heavily on a workshop in Berlin in late 2018, and a subsequent paper in the journal Nature. Four scenarios are presented. First, the “Big Green Deal” offers a positive story of the future, under the assumption that there will be a multilateral approach to tackling climate change. Second, “Dirty Nationalism” explores the fallout of nations choosing to turn inward and pursue a short‐term, protectionist, and self‐interested agenda. Third, “Technology Breakthrough” illustrates how a technological leap forward could lead to a great power rivalry and distinct regional energy blocs. Finally, “Muddling On” investigates the outcome of an energy transition that reflect business as usual. By comparing and contrasting the different scenarios, the article highlights the potential winners and losers of the different scenarios, and the geopolitical consequences. It also sketches the implications for policy, theory, and scenario thinking more broadly.