IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

An Economic Perspective on Technological Transitions Related to Energy and Climate Change, with a Case Study of the UK


  • Paul Ekins


The paper discusses the concept of technological transitions and theories of how they might come about. It then relates this concept to current policy concerns about climate change and energy and presents research results about what a low-carbon energy system might look like and how it could be achieved. It then briefly explores the policy implications and possible macro-economic costs of moving to a low-carbon energy system. Technological transitions are relevant to climate change and energy because the energy system is a major technological system in society, and to reduce its carbon emissions dramatically, as is required if dangerous anthropogenic climate change is to be avoided, will require a full technological transition. There are many low-carbon technologies with the potential for large-scale deployment. Simulations suggest that the decarbonisation of the electricity system, involving any or all of carbon capture and storage, nuclear power and renewables, with increasing use of electricity in the residential and transport sectors, will be required. There may also be a role for bioenergy and hydrogen. In all cases strong public policies will be required to achieve large cuts in carbon emissions, involving carbon pricing, technology support and removing barriers to lifestyle and behaviour changes. Currently, while many different policies have been implemented, they have not been strongly enough applied to achieve sustained emissions reduction. Most models suggest that the macroeconomic costs of substantial cuts in carbon emissions are relatively small (1-4% GDP by 2050) compared to the costs of unabated climate change. However, the political costs of implementing the required policies may mean that politicians are unable in practice to prevent runaway climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Ekins, 2010. "An Economic Perspective on Technological Transitions Related to Energy and Climate Change, with a Case Study of the UK," Economia politica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 247-276.
  • Handle: RePEc:mul:jb33yl:doi:10.1428/32539:y:2010:i:2:p:247-276

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mul:jb33yl:doi:10.1428/32539:y:2010:i:2:p:247-276. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.