Sustainable Energy Transformation in an Age of Post-truth Politics, Protectionism, Populism, and Local Resistance

Panel Code

Sustainable energy transition is discussed as one of the most important pillars in order to combat climate change. While climate change is a global challenge, the transition of energy system is a matter of national policy. In an age of populism, protectionism, and post-truth politics, the social-institutional environment sustainable energy transition processes are embedded in is in unprecedented turbulence. The papers of this panel are dealing with political conditions of sustainable energy transformation processes and discuss if and how the described political upheavals affect sustainable energy transformation processes or if and why these processes are resilient. Post-truth politics are a backlash to human-caused climate change. Protectionism challenges prevailing policy paradigms, political and social forces are re-configured. Skepticism against international cooperation is growing, protectionist policies are considered as cure for national economic prosperity. These developments are reinforced by increasing populism that challenges established policy priorities by favoring short-term outcomes over long term innovation strategies. According to populist ideology, the economic well-being of the nation measured in jobs, income, and cultural identity is the highest political priority. Populist parties and movements confirm the impression of citizens who do not feel their interests being represented by the established political elites any more. At the same time, countries all over the world but especially those from the Global South are facing climate change deteriorating living and production conditions and bringing about economic damage. Due to the sheer impact of Asian (emerging) countries, power relations are changing in terms of combatting climate change at the international level. Therefore, energy transformation processes are not only determined by political upheavals like the age of post-truth politics, protectionism, and populism that mainly in take place in Western countries but also by both the raising international political impact and the level of problem pressure. Moreover, we can especially learn from the history of emerging countries about the consequences of some of the described political developments, e.g. protectionist policies.