Burrows, Louise (2018)

Keep it in The Ground: The Role of UK Development Cooperation in Phasing Out Fossil Fuel Use Case Study of India. University of Amsterdam


Global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through phasing out fossil fuel use is needed to mitigate against the adverse impacts of climate change. This requires radically altering traditional, carbon intensive development pathways, to fossil fuel free, sustainable alternatives. This poses a challenge for developing countries who (in most cases) rely on fossil fuels for economic growth, and undermines their ‘Right to Development’. The North and South therefore have common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases to safe levels. Positioned in the ‘sustainable development’ debate, this research aims to fill the gap in knowledge on the specific role of development cooperation in supporting a phase out fossil fuel use within developing countries. Analysis of how international principles influence this role aligned to the right to (sustainable) development and differentiated mitigation responsibilities, will be applied. The study asks, in light of the Climate Convention of 1992 (UNFCCC, 1992) and the PA (PA, 2015) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, what is the role of UK development cooperation and how can it progress, in phasing out the use of fossil fuels. A case study of India has been analysed. Methods used were academic literature review, content analysis of policy documents and reports, and semi-structured interviews carried out with experts from government, academia, civil society and the private sector. The research reveals that although UK development cooperation has evolved to account for climate change mitigation in its policies and instruments since 2005, it has no strategy to phase out fossil fuels completely. Contradictory policies aligned to: generating economic development, serving commercial interests, increasing the influence of the private sector and mainstreaming climate change mitigation, coupled with pressure from international climate agreements, are driving UK development cooperation to simultaneously support mitigation and fossil fuel programmes. This is evident generally, whereby over 2010-2014, 22% of UK ODA supported fossil fuel projects and 32% renewable projects, and also within India, whereby UK development cooperation is supporting both gas and renewable energy markets. Such practices are not consistent with UK’s domestic climate change policies that require a phase out of fossil fuels in order to hit 2050 targets, nor the principles of sustainable development. UK development cooperation therefore holds a contradictory role in phasing out fossil fuel use, as it is creating enabling environments in favour of both clean and carbon-based energy. This dichotomy in its role is rooted in the incoherent discourses between the ‘Right to Development’ and ‘Right to Promote Sustainable Development’ principles, and how the UK separately perceives and applies these principles across its policies and instruments. This has led to internal and external inconsistencies across the use of UK development cooperation when it comes to phasing out fossil fuel use, and the manifestation of policy dilemmas that favour both fossil fuel and mitigation projects, that UK development cooperation must navigate. This study recommends for UK development agencies to mainstream the principles of sustainable development across their policy framework, develop more coherent and stricter policies on fossil fuels and integrate the ‘Right to Development’ principle within the ‘Right to Promote Sustainable Development’ principle across its policies. This will make UK development cooperation more effective in phasing out the use of fossil fuels within developing countries. 

Key words: development cooperation, sustainable development, climate change mitigation, fossil fuels, phase out

Boivin, Inès (2022)

Working in Oil and Gas, at What Price? The Challenges International Organizations Face in Implementing an Inclusive Just Energy Transition Away from Fossil Fuels and its Impacts on Migrant Labour. University of Amsterdam


As seen through the last IPCC report (2022), the climate crisis needs to be tackled urgently and energy is the first factor to look at. However, the global economy is dependent on Fossil Fuel industries and a majority of employment relies on it for survival. Today, 12.6 million people work in the Fossil Fuel industry. Phasing-out thus implies a loss of jobs estimated around 9.5 million, that international organizations need to consider in their policy-making especially in relation to migrant labour but the current literature does not address it. The following research question addresses these knowledge gaps: What challenges persist in driving an inclusive phase out of Fossil Fuels led by international organizations with special reference to migrant labour? The thesis uses an inclusive development lens as a solution to counter power imbalances between the Global North and South, and the focus on economic goals. It also uses the lens of what Smith calls “uneven development” to evaluate labourers situations. This concept shows that Fossil Fuel industries influence migrant labour flows: labour will come to the industry’s location which strategically and systematically under develops labourers home-countries. Semi-structured interviews with labourers in the oil and gas industry were conducted during fieldwork in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Content analysis of policy documents and reports also revealed that Saudi Arabia is not ready for a transition. Although they are implementing greener plans, their main income source will stay bound to oil and gas. In-depth analysis of data shows that Just Transition and Decent Work are mostly unknown concepts for multinational companies, and policies on handling unemployment are not yet being developed. The ILO misses data from Saudi Arabia, which questions policy-makers agencies in creating meaningful inclusive policies. Climate Change knowledge is challenges individuals’ investment to mitigate it, and migrant labour will be more impacted than non- migrant labour by the Fossil Fuels phase out. This research recommends a more thorough understanding by organizations of Middle Eastern countries. They are some of the biggest actors in the Fossil Fuel industry and if inclusive development or Just Transition policies are to be meaningful, the ILO has to demand more transparency from its Member States, to protect migrant workers. 

Key words: fossil fuels phase out, migrant labour, inclusive development, Saudi Arabia, Just Transition, energy transition, unemployment

Boogaard, Claire (2022).
The Energy Transition: Remando en Dulce de Leche. A qualitative study on the
policy environment that governs the energy transition in Argentina. University
of Amsterdam


Despite having ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Argentina continues to extract fossil fuels, like most other countries. A coherent analysis of underlying forces that drive policy incoherence and thereby prevent domestic implementation of international climate policy in Argentina has not yet been extensively studied. This study therefore aims to fill this gap in knowledge through the following research question: how does an extractive imperative influence the implementation of international climate policy in Argentina, and how can climate policy be more effectively implemented to inclusively leave fossil fuels underground, paying special attention to the Nort-South implications of climate policy? This question is analysed using the theories of Inclusive Development, the Extractive Imperative and the North-South context. The research deploys qualitative research methods for it is based on interviews and a content analysis. The main findings of the study are: a) Argentina’s domestic climate and development policy is incoherent with international climate policy as the Argentine government actively promotes extraction, b) Argentina’s public debt and fragmented political system pose significant challenges to the implementation of international climate policies and c) Argentina’s poverty levels and democratic cycle hamper the implementation of international climate policies. The overall conclusion of the research is that Argentina’s domestic development policy relies too heavily on an extractive imperative, justified through the principles of the North-South context and leading to a lack of inclusive and effective implementation of climate policy. It is concluded that the policy framework that governs Argentina’s energy transition must be based on an inclusive development perspective to counter the current shortcomings. 

Keywords: international climate policy, fossil fuels, inclusive development, Argentina, extractive imperative, North-South

Cordes, Thomas (2022).

Governing the power: The possibility of establishing an inclusive German energy system. University of Amsterdam


An energy system that is affordable, secure, and environmentally sustainable. Those are the goals of the German government, as they set them out in 2010. This research analyzes how institutional forms of governance shape the possibility of creating an inclusive German energy system, within the CLIFF research project focused on leaving fossil fuels underground. Within the field of energy transitions, the urgency for western countries, and the necessity of a fossil fuel phase-out, are underdeveloped. By employing the inclusive development framework, this analysis is capable of analyzing in how far the three goals of energy governance are able to be achieved, and how they affect each other. By employing a mixed method approach, the multidimensional realities of inclusive development can be fully explored. A secondary data analysis helps establish the level of embeddedness of fossil fuels in the German energy system. Semi-structured interviews focus on the embeddedness of geothermal energy in the oil industry. An extensive and comprehensive policy analysis of all 315 publications made by two federal ministries, between 2014 and now, allows for a complete view of the mechanisms through which the German government hopes to achieve the goals of the Energiewende Fossil fuels are proven to be heavily embedded into the German energy system, both in institutional logics and governance system. This embeddedness is approached by non- inclusive institutional governance, which is lacking in pluralism, learning, and adaptive capacity. These realities make the possibility of achieving an inclusive energy system impossible. The mechanisms employed are not capable of tackling the strong embeddedness, and implicate tradeoffs in the pursuit of different dimensions of inclusive development. A lacking adaptive capacity creates limited possibilities of this prospect changing. This research sets up further questions into why these limited policy mechanisms are employed, and what must be done to change these prospects. 

Keywords: Germany, Inclusive Development, Institutional Governance, Energy Transition, Fossil Fuels.

Gentile, Giuliana (2022).
Purposeful Deception on the Verge of Delusion: Addressing the fossil fuels industry’s narratives causing the impasse within the energy transition. University of Amsterdam


In order to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement, fossil fuels need to be left underground. Despite being aware of their environmental impact, fossil fuels companies have purposefully hindered climate action and the energy transition in two different ways: at first denying the relevance of the climate crisis, and, most recently, representing themselves as the leaders of climate mitigation. There is a fundamental socio-psychological component within the current impasse caused by the fossil fuels industry, and it is significantly under-researched. As a part of the CLIFF project, this study answers the following question: how has the shift of narrative adopted by the fossil fuels industry influenced European climate perception and hindered the energy transition while avoiding any form of accountability? Through the analysis of existing literature, critical content and discourse analysis of Shell’s sustainability reports, the analysis of Shell’s social media ads, a survey distributed in various European countries, and semi-structured interviews with leading scholars and activists, this study reached the following conclusions: a) the misleading strategies identified are traditional forms of climate denial (undermining science, spreading doubt, and lobbying), as well as new forms of climate denial (greenwashing, techno-optimism, and strategic blame placement), which acknowledge the climate crisis, but equally reject and delay climate action; b) the fossil fuels industry is both the perpetuator and the victim of this new form of denial; c) their purposeful deception is mostly targeted towards young males, which reveals the fossil fuels industry’s intention of maintaining a patriarchal status quo, deepening the correlation between fossil fuels and masculinity (Petro-masculinity); d) most Europeans are unhappy to support this industry as consumers; e) fossil fuels executives should be held morally and legally accountable for their role within the climate crisis and purposeful delay of the energy transition that could save humankind from extinction. 

Key words: fossil fuels industry, fossil fuels phase-out, climate perception, climate denial, greenwashing, techno-optimism, petro-masculinity

Haasloop Werner, Lynn (2022).
A Carbon Lock-In is in the Pipeline: An analysis of how carbon lock-in caused by fossil fuel dependency influences an inclusive energy transition away from fossil fuels in a North-South context through a case study of Argentina. University of Amsterdam


Current development trajectories are heavily reliant on fossil fuels and in order to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, curtailing of fossil fuel production is needed. While developing countries are locking themselves into a carbon economy, there lies an opportunity for developing countries to ‘leapfrog’ carbon intensive pathways. This research aims to fill the gap in knowledge on the implications of a carbon lock-in for an inclusive transition, and answers the question: How does a carbon lock-in influence an inclusive transition away from fossil fuels to achieve inclusive development, paying special attention to shale fracking in a North-South context?. A case study of Argentina has been conducted. The methods used were an academic literature review, semi-structured interviews with experts, an analysis of secondary data sources and a content analysis of reports and policies. The research concludes that the carbon lock-in is most likely hampering an inclusive transition away from fossil fuels in Argentina, because of three reasons: (1) Argentina is locked in on the three dimensions of the carbon lock-in through an established FF dependency, normative views influenced by the industry and ‘systemic failure’. This includes increasing public debt, hyperinflation and increasing poverty that the government unsuccessfully tries to overcome by spending money on the development of fossil fuels through huge amounts of subsidies; (2) Argentina’s transition strategy is focused on gas as a bridge fuel, which implies a prolonged dependency on FFs for its energy supply, exclusive development pathways and an increased risk of forthcoming stranded assets; and (3) Argentina’s regulatory framework is not inclusive, which suggests that it does not protect the natural environment, does not generate wellbeing, includes unequal decision making and contradicts itself. In order to move towards an inclusive form of development, Argentina should reconsider its development strategy focused on the exploitation of the large shale oil and gas field Vaca Muerta since it is associated with ‘capital flight’ and foreign exchange debt. 

Key words: Energy Transition, Argentina, Carbon Lock-In, Vaca Muerta, Inclusive Development, Fossil Fuels, Systemic Failure

Linn, Juliette (2022).
Time To Walk the Talk: Analysing the Contextual Conditions that Enable and/or Hamper an Inclusive Just Energy Transition from a Fossil-Intensive Economy to a Low-Carbon Economy. University of Amsterdam


To mitigate the imminent effects of climate change, fossil duel dependent economies are required to phase out of their fossil fuel industries and transition to renewable energy sectors. In order to address the effects of climate change the Paris Agreement was developed in 2015 to hold all countries accountable to reduce global emissions and limit the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030. Studies have shown that developing countries are falling behind on energy efficiency targets due to Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities. This thesis analyzes the global energy transition discourse and the role of Leaving Fossil Fuels Underground in that phase out of fossil-intensive economies. It looks at the contextual conditions that influence the inclusiveness of the Just Energy Transitions in developing countries and in what ways the government addresses or rejects them in climate policies developed. Through a case study of the coal industry in South Africa, 13 non-governmental stakeholders of the energy transition were interviewed and 15 climate policy reports and documents have been analyzed. It was found that the main barriers affecting the inclusiveness of the Just Energy transition in South Africa are; (i) lack of accessibility to up-to-date data to spread awareness on climate change, (ii) issues of trust in South African government, (iii) lack of urgency displayed by the South African government, and (iv) Eskom’s current debt crisis restricting financial capacity to phase out of carbon intensive economy. Due to the complex interaction between highly globalized value chain actors and interests of local incumbent actors in the South African coal industry, the South African government demonstrates high resistance to an inclusive phase out of the coal industry. As a result, this research suggests that the current energy transition trajectories remain too focused macro level approaches to take the vulnerable workers into account and thus do not enable an inclusive Just Energy Transition in South Africa. In doing so, this thesis aims to contribute to the academic knowledge whereby developing countries can build the institutional capacity to sustainably address contextual barriers inhibiting an inclusive Just Energy Transition, using the coal industry of South Africa as an example. 

Keywords: Paris Agreement, Inclusive Development, Leaving Fossil Fuels Underground, South Africa, Just Energy Transition, Institutional Capacity, Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities

Janvier-Olsen, Marc (2022).
Fossil fuels in an evolving energy landscape: leapfrogging development or
developing stranded assets? University of Amsterdam


Climate change is forcing societies to mitigate as well as adapt to its consequences. In 2015, the Paris Agreement was reached. Tied to this notion are nationally determined commitments, whereby tributaries to the Paris Agreement operationalise their mitigation and adaptation plans based on their national needs. Kenya contributes 0.1% of total CO2 emissions worldwide, yet it has over the past decade made significant oil and gas discoveries. This raises the question: “How does the evolving availability of fossil fuels in Kenya influence Kenya’s vision for development and an inclusive energy transition towards renewable energies, particularly oil & LNG and what are the implications for North- South relations?” The study made use of inclusive development as a theory whereas concepts such as politics of aspiration, stranded assets, resource curse and middle-income trap were examined. The objective of this research is to analyse the evolving availability of fossil fuel resources in the region, in turn determining its effect on an inclusive energy transition for Kenya and its ramifications in a North-South context. This research employs qualitative data analysis as its main methodological framework, characterised with the use of semi-structured interviews and content analysis of seminal policy documents Fundamentally, Kenya is leapfrogging its peers by deploying its energy grid to renewables (nearly 90%), despite political commitments to develop its oil and mineral resources sector to further garner growth. Therefore, Kenya is at cross-roads between sustainability and profitability, moreover, it is at risk of a potential middle-income trap, while stranded assets pose future liabilities whereas a resource curse was discarded due to the relative size of the FF resources. Although Kenya has made large discoveries of oil and gas, it is rapidly expanding its renewables. Nevertheless, access and affordability remain the key drivers to Kenya’s energy transition with a ‘least- cost’ approach setting the political agenda. Internationally, these endeavours have direct connotations for geopolitical energy tensions. Africa constitutes a natural partner for future EU-Africa collaboration.

Keywords: Inclusive transition, fossil fuel landscape, access, affordability, leapfrogging, Kenya, FF.

Dijks, Glenn (2022).
Unlocking the Carbon lock-in in the Netherlands: A case study on the challenges
and conditions for phasing out fossil fuels. University of Amsterdam


To limit global temperature rise, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be massively reduced. However, many countries are locked-into fossil fuel use. This means that market systems and policies will give an advantage to fossil fuel technologies and disadvantage alternatives, perpetuating fossil fuel usage. Hardly any research has applied the carbon lock-in to a specific case. The main question of this research was: What kind of challenges does the European Union (EU) Member State (MS) of the Netherlands face and under what conditions does it appear likely that it will be able to phase out fossil fuels? Using the theories on carbon lock-in and transitions, I examined 28 policy documents and conducted 5 interviews. The results of the analysis showed that over the years Dutch climate and energy policies enabled a continuation of the carbon lock-in, because (a) the policies focused on energy security, (b) the potential income generated by using gas, and (c) they were badly designed, as they counteracted and obstructed other policies in the long-term. Think of high efficiency and emission requirements imposed on Dutch power plants, after which rising CO2 prices in the ETS were no longer an incentive in the Dutch energy sector. To generate emission reduction, the Dutch government mainly provided (i) subsidies for renewable energy, and (ii) tax schemes that should influence energy consumption. These measures were chosen as, first, they were cost-effective, (ii) served social ends, (iii) helped maintain the competitiveness of the Dutch economy by not being ahead of European or international policy. In doing so the use of fossil fuels in the Netherlands since 1990 went up until 2010, after which it did not fall below the 1990 level until 2019. All in all, the main challenges to phase out fossil fuels are, first, the availability of fossil fuels, and second its structurally low prices. Resulting in a strong institutional lock-in causing an important role for the competitiveness of the economy and energy security in policy decisions, as energy-intensive sectors and households benefited from the availability of cheap energy, and the Dutch State was able to derive income from its presence and use. Conditions under which the Netherlands is likely to phase out are (a) continuously and gradually rising fossil fuel prices, and (b) higher internationally legally binding targets, as both push the Netherlands to reduce its emissions. 

Reemst, Blanca (2022). The Energy Transition and Divestment of Fossil Fuel Assets. University of Amsterdam


Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. News sources declare that climate change mitigation pressures are increasing divestment of fossil fuel assets toward stakeholders with less transparency obligations, thereby hindering the realization of international climate goals. However, academic literature on divestment of physical fossil fuel assets in a climate-context is scarce. The current research is an explorative desk-study, aiming to investigate the relation between asset divestment and a just energy transition. The study employed a qualitative research approach, consisting of a news article content analysis, and analysis of 12 semi-structured interviews. The analyses provide supporting evidence for the proposed divestment trend: fossil fuel companies are motivated through climate related reasons to divest assets. This may increasingly shift asset ownership from IOCs toward private companies, private equity firms, and NOCs. The findings also support the notion that this divestment decreases overall transparency about operations and (future) greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel companies. Additionally, divestment may increase the risk of carbon leakage. Taken together, these findings indicate that current divestment trends have a negative impact on a just energy transition, specifically affecting distributional and restorative justice. 

Schmitz, Marika (2022). No reason to stay is a good reason to go: The Energy Charter Treaty influencing the fossil fuel phase-out. University of Amsterdam


This decade is decisive for climate change action (IPCC, 2022). As governments take increasingly bold steps, regulatory changes are likely to have a major impact on fossil fuels protected under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). The influence of the ECT as a multilateral investment agreement on the phasing- out of fossil fuels has been insufficiently addressed in current literature. Therefore, the research question is: How does the Energy Charter Treaty promote or hinder a smooth low-carbon transition away from fossil fuels among its parties, and how is its modernisation process impacting its role in supporting this transition? A mixed-methods approach identified seven reasons why the ECT is hindering the fossil fuel phase-out. 1) ECT enables investors to sue states for regulating in the public and environmental interest by influencing profits, limiting states’ regulatory space and energy sovereignty. The threat of disputes can directly discourage measures (threat chill) or indirectly (internalisation chill) by the general awareness of ISDS-threats postponing phase-out deadlines. 2) ECT is designed to protect the status- quo and encourages new fossil fuel-investments. It pressures states to postpone or withdraw the cancellation of licences or permits for new projects. At least 61 coal-fired-power-plants are protected under the ECT, the total protected fossil fuel infrastructure exceeds €345 billion. 3) Its Investor-State- Dispute-Settlement-mechanism (ISDS) conflicts with EU and domestic law systems. Consequently, three key issues with ISDS under the ECT were found: a) a lack of uniformity in the system, b) arbitrators have freedom of provision-interpretation and tend to rule investor-friendly, c) compensation appraisal includes future profit protection. ISDS-claims amount to $35 billion: more than Africa’s annual costs for climate adaptation to reach the Paris Agreement goals and more than the annual investment required to provide energy access to everyone around the world that currently has not. 4) If agreement in the modernisation process is reached, the most climate-friendly outcome protects existing fossil fuel investments for at least ten years. 5) ECT-accession locks countries into fossil fuel-dependent futures – the Sunset-clause keeps countries liable for ECT-breaches twenty years after their withdrawal – and undermines recent domestic transparency and independence reform. 6) There is no evidence for the ECT’s promised investment attraction and contribution to energy poverty reduction. It could even worsen energy poverty by allowing investors to sue states for restraining energy profits and lowering energy prices. Lastly, 7) by awarding investors for not adapting their business model in a timely and responsible manner public money is diverted from climate change measures benefiting the fossil fuel phase-out. 

Snaathorst, Ellen (2022).

Leaving Fossil Fuels Underground: The Social Justice Implications Related to the Distribution of Fossil Fuels. University of Amsterdam


With the collective aim of limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the pressure to diminish carbon emissions increases. Leaving Fossil Fuels Underground (LFFU) seems to be the most viable and equitable direction in this transition. LFFU means the elimination of the world’s dependency on fossil fuels and therefore enormous losses in infrastructure, investments, and untouched fossil fuel reserves which will lead to economic losses. Based on the Right to Development, global climate policy cannot justifiably ask countries in the Global South to forgo their ambitions regarding development and poverty reduction. Nevertheless, the world needs to take action to phase-out fossil fuels in an equitable and just way. This leads to the research question: How does the distribution of fossil fuels affect social justice in the context of the need to phase-out fossil fuels rapidly? Methods used were academic literature review, mapping, and semi-structured interviews. The research reveals that the majority of proved fossil fuel reserves are situated in the Global South. Extensive remaining fossil fuel reserves are located in nations that are dependent on fossil fuels for their export. Due to their undiversified economies based on fossil fuel export, phasing out fossil fuels will affect ordinary citizens. In the Global South, fossil fuels are owned and controlled by the sovereign state and are concentrated in regions where overwhelmingly National Oil Companies (NOCs) control the resources and industry. NOCs make large fiscal contributions to their governments which has caused governments with undiversified economies to become fiscally dependent on fossil fuel export. The presence of vast fossil fuel reserves and NOCs in undiversified economies exacerbates the social justice implications of phasing out fossil fuels. These nations are economically dependent on fossil fuel export and have large percentages of their populations employed in the industry. Phasing out fossil fuels without improving their comparative advantage will increase unemployment, (energy) poverty, and lead to political instability. This study recommends international assistance for nations economically dependent on fossil fuels as it is imperative to mitigate climate change justly. It may seem counterintuitive to assist wealthy fossil fuel-rich states that have contributed to climate change but phasing-out fossil fuels will affect citizens in these nations disproportionately. 

Keywords: fossil fuels, phase-out, social justice, Global South, distribution

Schüßler, Vivien (2022).
The Climate Policy Landscape and Fossil Fuel Phase-out in South Africa. University
of Amsterdam


The burning of fossil fuels causes climate change. The most effective way of addressing climate change is through leaving fossil fuels underground. This thesis studies the scarcely addressed the 1) challenges with leaving fossil fuel underground for emerging economies like South Africa from an inclusive development perspective and 2) role of states, investors, and shareholders of fossil fuel firms in climate policy implementation through stranded assets and foreign fossil-investments. Following a multi-method research design with a literature review, qualitative content analysis of policy documents, and interviews involving experts, a case study on fossil fuels and a sub-case study on oil and gas in South Africa was conducted to answer: How does the climate policy landscape govern an inclusive fossil fuel phase-out in emerging economies in general and South Africa in particular, paying specific attention to stranded assets and foreign investments in oil and gas in a North-South context? National policies reveal that South Africa promotes hydrocarbon development and thus seemingly welcomes foreign hydrocarbon finance and does not inclusively govern stranded assets because of a) a marginal focus on social and human stranded assets and b) no focus on natural, physical, and financial stranded assets. Sustainability reports reveal that investors and shareholders do not prohibit hydrocarbon finance in emerging economies and do not inclusively govern stranded assets because of a) a focus on their own and clients’ financial transition risk and b) no focus on natural, physical, social, human, financial stranded assets for emerging economies. Hence, the climate policy landscape hinders inclusively LFFU in emerging economies like South Africa. The author recommends that banks and investment management firms must take a bigger responsibility for leaving fossil fuels underground in emerging economies by a) stopping hydrocarbon finance, b) setting LFFU-conditions in client engagement, c) directing finance to justice elements and stranded assets.

Keywords: Climate Policy Landscape, Fossil Fuel Phase-out, South Africa, Foreign Oil and Gas investments, Stranded Assets, Leaving Fossil Fuels Underground.

Kapadia, Ben. (2022).

Understanding Issues regarding the Lock-in of Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in Germany. University of Amsterdam


As climate change was identified as being a threat for human wellbeing on global scale, the international community was setting joint goals to keep the increase of the global temperature at a maximum of 2°C above pre-industrial levels. One solution to meet the climate goals is the phase-out of fossil fuels and to transform current energy regimes towards low-carbon technologies. This analysis aims at the identification of issues to meet the goal of phasing-out fossil fuels demonstrated on the case of the EU member state of Germany. To understand the issues of inertia associated with attempts to phase-out fossil fuels, the analysis is focused on the identification of links between the concepts of carbon-lock in, stranded assets and just transformation in three of the divided energy sectors of the German energy system: electricity sector, building sector, transformation sector. While using a qualitative research design to guide the analysis, the methodological tools contributing to this research containing of semi- structured interviews, literature review and a content analysis of policy documents. The research demonstrates how the German government is applying various measures and policy instruments over an timespan of the three decades to transform the energy system, with different outcomes per sector. Further, the research demonstrates how different lock-in effects (infrastructural, institutional, behavioural) are creating conditions, which keeps the fossil fuel infrastructure from being exchanged with low-carbon alternatives. The just transition framework was applied, to identify from burdens for lower income groups in society, which resulted from institutional carbon lock-in linked to poor revisions and modifications to policy instruments. The research concludes that strong regulations and a thoughtful allocation of funding and welfare could possibly create conditions for not only phasing out fossil fuels, but also transform the energy system on equitable socio economic terms. This paper is an attempt to contribute to the wider scientific debate touching on issues of the phase out of fossil fuels and the transformation of the current energy regime in Germany and the European Union as a whole, identified as one of the major spatial entities producing CO2.

Keywords: Fossil fuels, phase-out, carbon lock-in, stranded assets, just transformation, climate change, carbon dioxide

Hids, Robin (2022). A Changing Labor Market: Just Transition or Collateral Damage?: The role of labor in a socially inclusive Just Transition away from fossil fuels. University of Amsterdam


The Paris Agreement implicitly calls for phasing out fossil fuels to comply with targets of remaining below a 1.5-2 °C global temperature increase. In order to meet these internationally determined objectives and facilitate a fossil fuel phase out, an energy transition must occur. Although a rapid transition will strongly endorse climate change mitigation goals, it may adversely affect the global workforce in terms of job loss among the 18 million people currently employed in the fossil fuel sector. To limit human suffering and hardship caused by efforts to Leave Fossil Fuels Underground, it is crucial to account for those potentially facing unemployment due to energy transition endeavors. Therefore, a Just Transition of the workforce has been proposed and formalized in international policies and agreements. Although such agreements include helpful guidelines for constructing Just Transition plans, the need for establishing context-sensitive and country-specific Just Transition policies has frequently been expressed. Existing scholarship largely omits Just Transitions in oil and gas phase-outs, prospective Just Transitions, and Just Transitions in developing countries. This thesis aims to contribute to filling these lacunas by investigating the case study of Argentina’s Just Transition. The overarching question driving this research, is “how do international Just Transition guidelines compare to Argentine Just Transition policies, and what key opportunities and challenges does Argentina face in a prospective inclusive and Just Transition away from fossil fuels?”. The study adopts a social inclusiveness approach and aims to illuminate which challenges and opportunities present themselves in the case of Argentina’s prospective Just Transition. Through a combination of content analysis and semi-structured interviews, several challenges and opportunities emerge. In terms of opportunities, Argentina’s Just Transition strategy greatly focuses on job creation and –transformation through re-training and skill-learning programs. This appears a viable possibility because Argentina has huge potential for renewable energy generation and the creation of green jobs. If implemented accordingly, this could contribute to Just Transition objectives, although renewable energy development is not enough to LFFU. Challenges were also identified and include the phasing out of oil and gas jobs as these workers are currently among the best-paid workers in the country and enjoy favorable work conditions strongly protected by labor unions. Considering these unions are highly influential and strongly aligned with the oil and gas sector, they are believed to prove unsupportive of a transition for labor. Another challenge concerns Argentina’s minimal Just Transition policy, where Just Transition is predominantly treated as a climate issue, although international Just Transition guidelines urge governments to consider it a cross-sectoral issue. 

Keywords: Just Transition, social inclusiveness, Argentina, unemployment, job conversion, LFFU, green jobs

Varnava, Phani (2022).

What kind of challenges do European Union Member States face and under what conditions does it appear likely that they will be able to phase out fossil fuels? A case study of the small European Union Member State of Cyprus. University of Amsterdam


Recent reports such as the recent IPCC reports have been clear about the path that the world must soon follow if climate targets are to be met. The Paris Agreement has set targets of keeping average global temperatures below 1.5°C or with the current trends, below 2°C. The recent European Green Deal is supplementary to the Paris Agreement and aims to transform the European Union into a climate neutral continent by 2050. However, recent geopolitical events in Eastern Europe, have seen a crisis withing the European Union and has shown that Member States are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels when they have been already facilitating a phase out. This has created a crisis, not only withing the European Union, but outside of it as well. Therefore, this has raised several questions regarding why Member States are slow in their transition away from fossil fuels. Each Member State faces its own challenges and has its own capabilities to facilitate a phase out. Different types of carbon lock-in, path dependency, and the fear of stranded assets and resources create multiple challenges for Member States and makes it harder for them to move away from fossil fuels. The case study of Cyprus demonstrates this slow transition as the island currently aims to reduce its emissions by 21% by 2030, however, only had a share of 12.04% of renewable energy generation in 2020. This is due to a deep carbon lock-in that exists in multiple sectors and scales of the country and efforts to unlock have been made to a small scale. However, the challenges that the island faces in transitioning are not uncommon for Member States who are an island or include islands in their jurisdiction. Different capabilities play a key role in transitioning and the support and guidance of the EU is key to helping EU Member States of different capabilities to transition away from fossil fuels.


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