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The Great Recession and the transition to a low-carbon economy


  • Andreas A. Papandreou

    (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)


The objective of this paper is to consider the potential implications of the recent financial and economic crisis on the transition to a low carbon economy. This is unavoidably an exercise in tenuous conjectures given both our proximity to the still unfolding crisis, and the inherent complexity, confusing and highly contested nature of global scale crisis. It is also difficult because our understanding of major energy transitions are still very much in thier infancy, not to mention the unprecedented nature of a transition to a sustainable energy system. The paper begins with a breif review of the Great Recession, considers what lessions can be drawn from past energy transitions and the potential ways that crises, socio-economic transitions and sustainability might be linked. The historical relationship between past recessions and C)2 emissions is presented along with where we stand with respect to meeting mitigation targets. The Great Recession coincided with a relative peak in climate action and the rise of a Green Growth narrative that provides some hope of a joint attack on climate change and economic malaise. This paper will briefly review the idea of Green Growth and Green Keynesianism and look at the evidence on the extent and effectiveness of green demand stimulus following the Great Recession. The paper will argue that despite some early hope and some worthy global developments on the renewables front, public and political priorities shifted dramatically so that on balance the Great Recession can be associated with a 'policy peak' and a lost opportunity to propel the low carbon transition. Moreover, it raises concerns that the continued fragility of the economic recovery will further delay the needed transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas A. Papandreou, 2015. "The Great Recession and the transition to a low-carbon economy," Working papers wpaper88, Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project.
  • Handle: RePEc:fes:wpaper:wpaper88

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Financial crisis; Great Recession; climate change policy; carbon prices; Green Growth; Green New Deal; socio-economic transitions; low carbon economy.;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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