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Open AccessArticle

Latecomers to the Fossil Energy Transition, Frontrunners for Change? The Relevance of the Energy ‘Underdogs’ for Sustainability Transformations

1
Institute of Social Ecology (SEC), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), 1070 Vienna, Austria
2
Austria and Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2650; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082650
Received: 1 June 2018 / Revised: 13 July 2018 / Accepted: 25 July 2018 / Published: 27 July 2018
The global energy system subsumes both extreme wealth (and waste) and extreme poverty. A minority of the global population is consuming the majority of the fossil fuel-based energy and causing global warming. While the mature industrialized economies maintain their high levels of energy consumption, the emerging economies are rapidly expanding their fossil energy systems, emulating traditional patterns of industrialization. We take a global, socio-metabolic perspective on the energy transition phases—take-off, maturation, and completion—of 142 countries between 1971 and 2015. Even within our global fossil energy system, the transition to fossil energy is still ongoing; many countries are in the process of replacing renewable energy with fossil energy. However, due to globally limited supplies and sinks, continuing the fossil energy transition is not an indefinite option. Rather than a “Big Push” for renewable energy within pockets of the fossil energy system, a sustainability transformation is required that would change far more than patterns of energy supply and use. Where this far-reaching change requires pushing back against the fossil energy system, the energy underdogs—the latecomers to the fossil energy transition—just might come out on top. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy supply; international inequality; renewable energy; fossil energy system energy supply; international inequality; renewable energy; fossil energy system
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Schaffartzik, A.; Fischer-Kowalski, M. Latecomers to the Fossil Energy Transition, Frontrunners for Change? The Relevance of the Energy ‘Underdogs’ for Sustainability Transformations. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2650.

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