Clean, green and the unseen: The CompeSA framework | Assessing Competing Sustainability Agendas in Carbon Neutrality Policy Pathways

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Abstract

Competing agendas are common within the sustainability field, given its complex and diverse social, economic, and environmental priorities. They can cause less effective policy results, where multiple goals can result in trade-offs and policy compromises. This paper proposes a conceptual framework: CompeSA – Assessing Competing Sustainability Agendas in Carbon Neutrality Policy Pathways. This framework enables the exploration of competing sustainability agendas arising from the simultaneous implementation of climate change, energy transitions, and energy poverty agendas. CompeSA is built on three key steps, 1) The WHAT, aiming to define the scope, 2) The WHERE, to understand the scales at which corresponding policy impacts apply; and 3) the WHO, for deep characterization and analysis of the key stakeholder groups. We base the development and application of the framework in Portugal, a test case strongly engaged with the carbon neutrality agenda, to illustrate important dilemmas over policy mixes and unpack emerging synergies and barriers. Identified synergies include the linked concepts of economic recovery and employment opportunities, mainly through renewable energy expansion, enhanced economic competitiveness, and skilled job creation. Improvements in air quality and the built environment contribute to health benefits. The most significant barriers are inequitable benefit allocation and power imbalances between the energy-poor and agenda-setting actors. Our demonstration shows CompeSA to be a helpful support tool for structured analysis of competing sustainability agendas and pinpoints key critical points that determine the effectiveness of sustainability policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-57
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Transitions
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Climate mitigation
  • Competing agendas
  • Energy poverty
  • Inequity
  • Just transitions

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