The extensive use of fossil fuels in recent decades is a well-known cause of the climate crisis. Climate action inevitably requires the strategic reorientation of industries that are part of the fossil fuel regime. International oil companies are central to this regime and possess the incumbent’s characteristic power and influence to steer this process. However, European international oil companies continue to invest in fossil fuels, even as they acknowledge the climate crisis imperative. Socio-political and economic dynamics can either reinforce the oil regime or pressure firms to take climate action. We aim to comprehensively analyse the dynamics between external socio-political and economic actors’ pressures to climate action on the one side, and the industry response on the other, from 2005 to 2019, using Geels Triple Embeddedness Framework. Drawing on a wide range of qualitative and quantitative longitudinal data (e.g. regulations, oil and renewables market trends, companies’ investments in oil, renewables, and low-carbon technologies), we characterised the pressures and responses of the different analytical categories and established three phases. The results indicate that policy pressure on the oil regime in this period lacked constancy and comprehensiveness. The Kyoto Protocol ratification produced an initial momentum that prompted some companies to invest in alternative fuels and renewables, but efforts faded after 2010. Societal calls for a transition from fossil fuels and divestments from oil companies have risen since 2017. Recent socioeconomic pressures combined with policy pledges for net-zero emissions have prompted all companies to invest beyond fossil fuels. However, efforts are still marginal and additional advancements in climate policy are necessary to foster the renewables market and to promote the phase-out of oil.

Will the regime ever break? Assessing socio-political and economic pressures to climate action and European oil majors’ response (2005-2019)

Canal Vieira
Primo
;
Longo Mariolina
Secondo
;
Mura Matteo
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

The extensive use of fossil fuels in recent decades is a well-known cause of the climate crisis. Climate action inevitably requires the strategic reorientation of industries that are part of the fossil fuel regime. International oil companies are central to this regime and possess the incumbent’s characteristic power and influence to steer this process. However, European international oil companies continue to invest in fossil fuels, even as they acknowledge the climate crisis imperative. Socio-political and economic dynamics can either reinforce the oil regime or pressure firms to take climate action. We aim to comprehensively analyse the dynamics between external socio-political and economic actors’ pressures to climate action on the one side, and the industry response on the other, from 2005 to 2019, using Geels Triple Embeddedness Framework. Drawing on a wide range of qualitative and quantitative longitudinal data (e.g. regulations, oil and renewables market trends, companies’ investments in oil, renewables, and low-carbon technologies), we characterised the pressures and responses of the different analytical categories and established three phases. The results indicate that policy pressure on the oil regime in this period lacked constancy and comprehensiveness. The Kyoto Protocol ratification produced an initial momentum that prompted some companies to invest in alternative fuels and renewables, but efforts faded after 2010. Societal calls for a transition from fossil fuels and divestments from oil companies have risen since 2017. Recent socioeconomic pressures combined with policy pledges for net-zero emissions have prompted all companies to invest beyond fossil fuels. However, efforts are still marginal and additional advancements in climate policy are necessary to foster the renewables market and to promote the phase-out of oil.
Canal Vieira; Longo Mariolina; Mura Matteo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/879007
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