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Transforming Energy
Solving Climate Change with Technology Policy

  • Date Published: September 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107024069
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  • Climate change will be an ecological and humanitarian catastrophe unless we move quickly to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Policy experts advise us that we need to make major changes to our lifestyles, and our governments need to agree globally binding treaties and implement market instruments like carbon taxes. This advice is a mistake: it treats technological innovation as being at the periphery of the climate policy challenge, whereas it needs to be at its core; we will phase out emissions when and only when the technologies to replace fossil fuels are good enough, and policies need - quickly - to support these new technologies directly. Anyone with an interest in climate change and energy policy will find this book forward-thinking and invaluable. Professional policy-makers, climate and energy policy researchers, and students of energy and public policy, economics, political science, environmental studies, and geography will find this book especially stimulating.

    • Explains why the main global policies for climate change mitigation have not worked and will likely never work
    • Provides practical guidance on what energy policies, laws and regulatory instruments will actually work and have a real impact on the climate change problem, based on energy system evolution
    • Contains a foreword by David G. Victor, one of the most prominent and respected international figures in energy and climate change policy
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Anthony Patt challenges the received wisdom of climate policy head on … his book serves as wake up call for climate policy decision-makers: in the end, the actual performance of greenhouse gas mitigation policy instruments counts, not their theoretical beauty.' Axel Michaelowa, University of Zurich

    Customer reviews

    17th Sep 2015 by WarnerKoko

    In the new book Transforming Energy: Solving Climate Change with Technology Policy July 2015, Cambridge University Press, author Anthony Patt challenges widely held views on mitigation policy and suggests alternative framings that, in his view, would be more effective in mitigating climate change—identifying technological solutions and championing them. This interesting book challenges current views on effective energy policy and is an important, worthwhile read for informed audiences. Central argument: Targeted support to technological winners. The author argues that national targets, carbon markets and taxes, measures to reduce energy use –the actions that have typically characterized climate policy in past years—not only have not worked but likely will never work. Patt argues that measures aimed at incentivizing emissions reduction based on the assumptions of functioning markets are not the key factors for transforming energy systems. Instead, he suggests direct support for technology illustrating with the example of the German Energiewende hold much more promise for shifting energy systems. Organization. The book has a few introductory chapters laying out the challenges of mitigation policy and practice. The middle chapters of the book are devoted to an examination of the limitations and merits of carbon taxes and markets, binding national targets, and promoting lifestyle change. The final chapters of the book explore alternatives with case studies across the spectrum of technologies needed to achieve zero emissions. Assessment of central arguments. The author´s work provides a fresh view on a timely subject—a view that stands in contrast to literature reviewed in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report Working Group III. One of the new elements of this book is the author´s conclusion that current mitigation policy carbon taxes and markets, binding national targets, and promoting lifestyle change are unlikely to achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This argument challenges the predominant view at least in some industrialized countries that the focus of mitigation policy should be on how to get carbon markets working better rather than have the public sector involved in identifying technological winners and targeting support towards those. The author´s assessment of technological options reaches two conclusions: First, there are a select clusters of promising alternatives for low- and zero-carbon emissions. Second, there are feasible policy options that could make these technologies competitive on energy markets. The author draws a lot from the German Energiewende to illustrate ways that policy and targeted support can drive shifts in energy systems. Given the importance of energy markets in developing countries in contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions, I felt the book would have had additional relevance with more discussion of governance, policy, and the efficacy of choosing technological winners in the global south. A discussion of feed-in tariffs and other measures to incentivize renewable energies in this context would have been helpful, as the prerequisites and conditions in Germany are likely quite different from countries in some parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The book is written in accessible language that is appropriate for an audience informed on climate policy. The book would be useful for climate negotiators on the road to Paris these next weeks in 2015, and to national energy policy makers. The book would serve as a good textbook for graduate courses on climate policy, and energy system and technology courses as well.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107024069
    • length: 360 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 22 x 158 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword David G. Victor
    Part I. Setting the Stage:
    1. From optimism to pessimism and back again
    2. The natural and social science of climate change
    3. The solution space and its distractions
    Part II. Failed Strategies to Reduce Emissions:
    4. Getting the prices right
    5. Striking a global bargain
    6. Changing the way we live
    Part III. Successful Strategies to Move Us Away from Fossil Fuels:
    7. Theories of transition
    8. Strategic technologies
    9. Energiewende in the German power sector
    10. Policies beyond power
    11. Pulling it all together
    Index.

  • Author

    Anthony Patt, ETH Zentrum, Switzerland
    Anthony Patt is Professor of Human-Environment Systems at ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He had been a practicing environmental lawyer in the United States when his concern about climate change led him to Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where he earned a PhD for research on the relationship between science, engineering and climate change governance. Since moving to Europe in 2006, he has turned his attention to the policy challenges associated with scaling up low-carbon technologies. In 2012 he received the prestigious European Research Council award to support his team's research on the environmental, social and institutional challenges of solar energy development. From 2011–14 he participated in numerous capacities in the preparation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, including as Lead Author on the role of risk and uncertainty in climate policy, and as a member of the writing team of the Summary for Policymakers for the IPCC's Mitigation of Climate Change report.

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