Enabling positive tipping points towards clean – energy transitions in coal and carbon intensive regions - TIPPING +

May 2020 – May 2023
Energy Advisory

TIPPING+ will carry out empirical analyses and advance the state-of-the-art on both negative and positive tipping points. However, the main focus of TIPPING+ will concern the participatory co-production of knowledge on the driving forces and deliberate tipping interventions for positive tipping points toward energy transitions in European Coal and Carbon Intensive Regions (CCIR).

Specifically, the TIPPING+ project will explore, both in an empirical and theoretical way, the multiple cross-cutting issues related to socio-demographic, geographical, cultural, political and economic processes and dynamics leading to the emergence of SETPs by carrying out the following tasks:

1. Further characterize CCIR by including both regions characterized by upstream energy extractive industries (coal & fossil fuels) and the downstream energy-intensive sector & services and to identify the main drivers for the emergence of positive and negative social-ecological tipping points in these regions. As these deep regional systemic changes, driven by the need for energy transitions, unfolds, we hypothesize that a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis of: (Demographic trends and structures and geographical distribution patterns in gender, migration, and youth Community, gender, socio-psychological and ideological factors, including the rise of populism or anti-democratic attitudes  Public policy interventions and governance factors and their cross-cutting effects at different levels , Economic trends including their effects in job creation/destruction, distributional changes in welfare and variations in stocks and flows of natural resources and energy and the associated  technologies available at regional level, will sharpen our understanding of how positive SETPs occur.

2. Identify key social-economic structures, trends and changes, taking into consideration cultural, social and psychological aspects at individual and household levels in order to assess how livelihoods and communities affect and are affected by changing socio-ecological conditions in CCIRs. In this, we focus on assessing how the creation or the loss of endogenous development capacities affect livelihoods and the possibility (for actors/ stakeholders/ communities?) to support deliberate positive transformations towards clean-energy systems development trajectories.

3. Early identification of key social-economic trends and changes occurring both at socio-structural level considering social-psychological aspects as at the level of individual and household livelihoods and communities, affecting socio-ecological conditions in CCIRs: in order to assess how the creation or the loss of endogenous development capacities affect their livelihoods and chances to support deliberate positive transformations towards clean-energy systems development trajectories.

4. Gather critical insights from a wide and representative diversity of Coal and Carbon Intensive regions: TIPPING+ addresses a total of 20 diverse cases critical to understand recent past and potential alternative futures in low-carbon, clean-energy transitions, which cover not only East, Central, North and South European countries, but also other critical areas like Arctic region and Greenland as well as non-European supporting partners in Australia, Canada, and Indonesia.

5. Map out and assess, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the different kinds of coping and innovation strategies implemented by regional actors related to clean-energy transitions. The TIPPING+ analyses will include the interplay between main narratives and visions developed by regional agents with regard to energy systems the types of regional transformative capacities (including both coping– and innovative ones) created or lost during the last decade (2009-2019), and the kinds of specific strategies, solutions and responses adopted to address the systemic challenges confronted by CCIRs.

6. Provide theoretically-grounded practical recommendations to support the most effective of positive tipping interventions to enable low-carbon, clean-energy transitions for Europe’s CCIR and to prevent negative trajectories that hamper decarbonisation in regional social-ecological systems. Such recommendations will be based on the combination of participatory co-production of transformative visions and grounded knowledge from the case studies about the emergence (or lack thereof) of SETP in these regions. Stakeholder engagement via workshops and other means in all case studies will help operationalizing the specific research questions in policy relevant ways and generate tailored recommendations to support the implementation of the EU energy goals

7. Generate continuous mutual learning feedbacks and enhance regional transformative capacities through the whole duration of the project by ensuring an early engagement of case studies stakeholders. To foster positive impacts, a series of ad hoc engagement, science-policy integration and interfacing activities will be carried out during the whole duration of the project. In particular, stakeholder engagement will start at a very early stage of the project and will serve to produce the both the analytical framework and support the synthesis work of the Integration.

Towards a sustainable future