Researchers shared the latest research insights and preliminary results from the decarbonization research theme at the Mistra Geopolitics annual conference in Sigtuna.
Government narratives and the energy transition in Colombia and Nigeria
Most countries have set “net zero” greenhouse gas emission targets. However, many have not made explicit plans for the rapid reduction of fossil fuel production that is implied in these targets.
A research project funded by Mistra Geopolitics aims to find out how key actors’ discourses constrain or enable further fossil fuel production in Colombia and Nigeria. Researchers investigated how key actors could challenge current plans and support the rapid reduction in fossil fuel production that goes hand-in-hand with meeting international targets under the Paris Agreement, thus addressing the production gap.
Claudia Strambo, a research fellow at SEI, and Daria Ivleva, a senior advisor and co-lead of the climate policy programme at Adelphi, examined government narratives, policy documents and other materials published between December 2015 and May 2022. They found that governmental discourses include oil and gas production on as core pillars of the energy transition.
In Colombia, a key limitation for the country is how to replace the revenues from oil and gas. These energy sources continue to be depicted as necessary for energy security, sovereignty, and national and territorial development, while renewable energy resources are not discussed in those terms. Low-carbon oil and gas are seen as pillars for the energy transition, substituting other more polluting fuels in the residential, industry and transport sectors. In this context, researchers found that published documents normalize oil and gas production, including technocentric and managerial language that reduces the issue of climate change to questions of carbon emission management.
Similarly, in Nigeria, natural gas is seen as a “cleaner” fossil fuel, which fits into the country’s aspiration to become an industrialized economy. Nigeria plans use natural gas while transitioning to a low-carbon future. Attention in this context is focused on development issues, more broadly, rather than energy systems only.
The circularity of materials: A security question?
Eugène Petelin, a PhD student at Lund University, examines and identifies policy narratives on material circularity. He highlighted the role specific metals play in energy systems, such as rare earth metals, and perceived threats to state security in terms of supply of certain materials.
Even though businesses appear to be the driving force of circularity and recycling in the Nordic countries, Petelin said that national security strategies can also drive these processes. He illustrated this with policy documents that emphasize the limited access to specific materials, and that therefore consider circularity plans for these materials for protecting the economic system within a state.
“Criticality is defined as limited access to materials”, Petelin said. “The idea of limited access originates from resources not being available because these are located in countries able to set limits.” Monopolistic control of metals, for example, has implications for geopolitical concerns, from trade to security.
Claudia Strambo is a Research Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute. Her research interests include energy transition and sustainable development policy in emerging economies, international environmental regimes, and theory of international environmental politics. In Mistra Geopolitics, she works on geopolitics of decarbonization.
Telephone:+46 70 388 2680
Daria Ivleva is a Senior Advisor and Co-Lead of the Climate Policy Programme at Adelphi. In Mistra Geopolitics, she works on the geopolitics of decarbonization.
Telephone:+49 (30) 8900068-76
Eugène is a PhD student at Lund University. In his research, he explores the geopolitical implications of circular economy (Work Package 3), specifically how security concerns can affect circular strategies in different regions and what effect circular policies have on security. Previously, he worked as a researcher and teacher at National Research University — Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia), where his research was focused on China’s energy system transformation. Before joining the university, he worked as an editor of the Security Index journal, a Russian journal on international security. Eugène graduated from Tyumen State University (Russia) with a degree in Political Science and from Lund University with an MSc in Environmental Management and Policy.
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Maria Cole is a Senior Communications Officer at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) based in Stockholm.
Telephone:+46 70 224 20 22
Ylva Rylander is a Communications Officer at SEI. As a core member of SEI’s communications team and previous Press Officer of SEI, Ylva writes and edits press releases, develops communication plans and creates news stories. With 15 years of experience in public relations, awareness raising and external communication, she also provides strategic advice to SEI and Mistra Geopolitics researchers to help them maximize the impact of their research.
Telephone:+4673 150 33 84
This text was written by Ana Calvo, Communications Assistant at SEI and Mistra Geopolitics. Edited by Ylva Rylander, Communications Officer at SEI and Mistra Geopolitics.