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JANUARY 2017: FINAL PATHWAYS POLICY BRIEFS

The EU FP7 project PATHWAYS has focused on key objectives of EU sustainability policy. This is intrinsically linked to the success of two key transitions: 1) the energy transition and 2) the land-use transition. Transitions are studied by different disciplines, including scenario studies based on integrated assessment models, transition studies focusing on the role of institutions and actors as well as detailed case studies and transformative research, which seeks to actively support transitions. These approaches have all strengths and weaknesses. The PATHWAYS project used methods and tools from all three disciplines to provide an integrated story about the changes necessary to meet the EU targets. PATHWAYS focused on a selected set of transition domains – electricity, heat & building, mobility, agro-food-systems, and multifunctional land use & biodiversity. By combining and coordinating information from the different disciplines for selected cases, PATHWAYS provided insight to European policy-makers. The final policy briefs provide the key messages from the PATHWAYS project for each of the domains analysed in the project.

 

NOVEMBER 2016: FINAL EEA/PATHWAYS WORKSHOP

On November 21-22, PATHWAYS together with the EEA organised a workshop at the EEA in Copenhagen. The objective of the workshop was to explore how PATHWAYS and related projects can support the development of knowledge for transitions at the European scale, focusing in particular on how they can contribute to the planned SOER 2020 systems assessment. Apart from the EEA and PATHWAYS, members of the OECD, European Commission, EEA scientific committee, and the projects ARTS, TESS and CARISMA participated in this workshop. All presentations are available for download below.

Presentations from plenary sessions day 1 

Mobility:

Presentations from plenary session day 2:

OCTOBER 2016: PATHWAYS/ARTS/TESS EVENTS

Together with our sister rojects ARTS and TESS, PATHWAYS organised a session at the European Week of Regions and Cities on October 11 in Brussels. The main topics of discussion will be the impacts and dynamics of urban community-based initiatives and new approaches of research on urban transition pathways. In the same week, we also discussed the final results of our and related projects in a workshop in Rotterdam (13-14 October). Poet Emily Hinshelwood joined this last conference and reflected their insights back to them in poetic form:

 

SEPTEMBER 2016: NARRATIVE-BASED SCENARIOS

Within the PATHWAYS project, we have developed European transition scenarios to a sustainable low-carbon society. Several models have been used to analyze the required changes in power supply, mobility, heating, land use, and agriculture. The scenarios have been developed based on insights from socio-technical transition analyses. One report describes the physical (mostly technological) quantitative aspects, while another report provides illustrative storylines for all domains. The latter report focuses on societal and behavioural aspects such as institutional change, different types of actors, their goals, strategies and resources, guided by socio-technical theories. These two reports together provide a comprehensive picture of the two alternative sustainability pathways.

 

JUNE 2016: CASE STUDY DATABASE ONLINE

There are many case studies on local and regional transitions. Some of those look at community-based initiatives, others at higher levels such as cities or even countries. Initiatives can be domain-specific: some focus specificallly on food, others on energy, mobility or other domains. Until now, an overview of existing European transition case studies was missing. In a joint effort of the European FP7 projects PATHWAYS, TESS, and ARTS, a database of existing case studies was developed. The database is still under development, and the in the coming months the databse will be populated with many more case studies. You can very easily filter the cases studies by domain, country, and geographical scale. Everybody is welcome to add existing case studies to the database, please send an e-mail to pathways@pbl.nl for instructions how to do so.  

 

MAY 2016: OECD BOOK REVIEW ON SYSTEM INNOVATION

Karoline Rogge has written a book review on the OECD System Innovation project. Over the past two years, the OECD’s Working Party on Innovation and Technology Policy (TIP) has been studying how the concept of ‘system innovation’ – used in the sense of ‘socio-technical transition’ – could help orient innovation policy towards meeting societal challenges. Recognizing that such an endeavor would benefit from mutual learning between policy makers, researchers and business representatives, several meetings were held in 2013 and 2014. The resulting thinking on system innovation (SI) was recently published in an OECD synthesis report, which can be seen as an intermediary output of this still ongoing capacity building project. In its roughly one hundred pages, the report explores the concept of SI as a promising horizontal and long-term policy approach to addressing social, economic and environmental challenges. Most case studies have in common that the studied transition is still at an early phase, which is also suggested by the recent findings of the PATHWAYS project.

 

MAY 2016: PARTNER EVENT SOCIAL INNOVATION AT EU GREEN WEEK

Social innovation comes in many forms such as nature-based solutions and people-based solutions that hand in hand transform our cities. Transition initiatives as makers of social innovation foster new relationships, new institutions and, contribute to new urban realities: sharing economy, green economy, and sustainable lifestyles. In our Green Week event we will interactively debate key messages for policy, practice and education that invigorate the way urban social innovation plays out in accelerating low-carbon transitions via altering city-making, and creating green jobs. Research efforts discovered that the proliferation of urban social innovation initiatives in cities raises new questions for city-making, the role of university and existing welfare state models.

 

MARCH 2016: GOVERNING THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE TRANSITION

This paper seeks to better understand how one plausible development in a green energy economy transition of the transport sector can be governed: a breakthrough of battery-electric vehicles (BEV). Drawing on recent results and lessons from BEV studies at local, national and regional scales, the paper presents two alternative scenarios of BEV uptake until 2030 – one incremental growth scenario and one breakthrough scenario. The results point towards a multidimensional governance approach that includes conventional policy instruments such as durable incentive policies, with a predictable mechanism for adjustment and phase-out, and mechanisms for mobilising investment finance for fast and super-fast charging and home charging along public roads. In addition, more innovation-systems oriented governance is required, such as familiarisation and experience building to ease cognitive barriers and build knowledge for both consumers and businesses, and supporting structural and technological change within automotive industries.

 

MARCH 2016: THE EU 40% REDUCTION TARGET IN PERSPECTIVE

Within PATHWAYS we have assessed the fairness and ambition level of the INDC of the EU (reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 % relative to 1990). For this, we calculate which reduction targets for other major emitting economies are comparable to the EU target, given widely diverging effort-sharing approaches. We introduce a novel approach in which the EU target is taken as starting point for allocating emission reductions to other regions. Under this approach, the global emission level is an outcome of the analysis, contrary to standard effort-sharing approaches in which the global climate goal is specified. We find that the INDC of the EU, if other regions take on comparable targets based on a differentiated convergence per-capita approach, could be sufficient for a global 2 °C pathway. However, according to a historical responsibility approach, the INDC of the EU is clearly not sufficient. Furthermore, we conclude that India, Mexico, and Brazil have more ambitious INDCs than the EU according to both a differentiated convergence per-capita approach and a historical responsibility approach.

 

MARCH 2016: HORSES FOR COURSES: ANALYTICAL TOOLS TO EXPLORE PLANETARY BOUNDARIES

There is a need for more integrated research on sustainable development and global environmental change. This paper focuses on the planetary boundaries framework to provide a systematic categorization of key research questions in relation to avoiding severe global environmental degradation. We identify the strength and weaknesses of different research areas in relation to specific question categories, focusing specifically on different types of models. We discuss that more interdisciplinary research is needed by better linking human drivers and social and biophysical impacts. This requires better collaboration between relevant disciplines (associated with the model types), either by exchanging information or by fully linking or integrating them. As fully integrated models can become too complex, the appropriate type of model (the racehorse) should be applied for answering the target research question (the race course).

 

NOVEMBER 2015: PATHWAYS PAPER ABOUT RATES OF CHANGE IN ENERGY SYSTEM

In PATHWAYS we have assessed how future patterns of energy system change in 2 °C scenarios compare with historically observed rates of change. The results of this assessment are now published in Global Environmental Change. This paper systematically compares modeled rates of change provided by global integrated assessment models aiming for the 2 °C objective to historically observed rates of change. Such a comparison can provide insights into the difficulty of achieving such stringent climate stabilization scenarios. The analysis focuses specifically on the rates of change for technology expansion and diffusion, emissions and energy supply investments. The associated indicators vary in terms of system focus (technology-specific or energy system wide), temporal scale (timescale or lifetime), spatial scale (regional or global) and normalization (accounting for entire system growth or not). Although none of the indicators provide conclusive insights as to the achievability of scenarios, this study finds that indicators that look into absolute change remain within the range of historical growth frontiers for the next decade, but increase to unprecedented levels before mid-century. Indicators that take into account or normalize for overall system growth find future change to be broadly within historical ranges. This is particularly the case for monetary-based normalization metrics like GDP compared to energy-based normalization metrics like primary energy. By applying a diverse set of indicators alternative, complementary insights into how scenarios compare with historical observations are acquired but they do not provide further insights on the possibility of achieving rates of change that are beyond current day practice.

 

SEPTEMBER 2015: CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTIONS AND PRODUCTION RESEARCH

In a conceptual review article, Frank Geels et al. provide a critical appraisal of Sustainable Consumption and Production research, which is currently framed by two generic positions: the reformist and the revolutionary position. This dichotomous debate is problematic, because it is intellectually stifling and politically conservative in its outcomes. Therefore, a third position is proposed, ‘reconfiguration’, which focuses on transitions in socio-technical systems and daily life practices and accommodates new conceptual framework.

 

SEPTEMBER 2015: PATHWAYS POSITION PAPER PUBLISHED IN GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

The paper in which the PATHWAYS approach is discussed is now online in Global Environmental Change (here). It sets out a proposal for bridging and linking three approaches to the analysis of transitions to sustainable and low-carbon societies: quantitative systems modelling; socio-technical transition analysis; and initiative-based learning. In the paper we argue that each of these approaches presents a partial and incomplete picture, which has implications for the quality and usefulness of the insights they can deliver for policy and practice. Therefore, we introduce a framework for bridging to enrich each of the approaches, while providing the basis for a more robust and complete analysis of sustainable transitions pathways that serves better to address questions and dilemmas faced by decision-makers and practitioners. We suggest an integration strategy based on alignment, bridging, and iteration, arguing that a structured dialogue between practitioners of different approaches is needed. In practical terms, such a dialogue would be organised around three areas of joint knowledge production: defining common analytical or governance problems to be tackled through integration; establishing shared concepts (boundary objects); and establishing operational bridging devices (data and metrics, pathways evaluation and their delivery).

 

SEPTEMBER 2015: PATHWAYS PROJECT PRESENT AT IST CONFERENCE

At the International Sustainability Transtions (IST) conference at SPRU, Brighton, from 25 to 28 August, the results of the PATHWAYS project were presented at many sessions. Among others, there was a well-visited PATHWAYS session on Friday morning. In this session, Mariesse van Sluisveld discussed how scenario modeling could learn from historical rates of change in technology diffusion, Karoline Rogge presented a case study about smart meters in Germany, and Bruno Turnheim discussed how different approaches to address governing challenges could be bridged. Georg Holtz from Wuppertal Institute gave a reflection the presentations. On Thursday there was a PATHWAYS dialogue session led by Frans Berkhout to debate on integration and linking strategies to address the governance challenges of sustainability transitions. The panelists of this sessions were Frank Geels, Jonathan Köhler, Karolina Safarzynska, Timothy Foxon, and Neil Strachan. The whole session was recorded and can be heard back here.

 

FEBRUARY 2015: THIRD PROJECT MEETING, LEIPZIG, GERMANY

The third PATHWAYS meeting was organised by the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig. The meeting took place from 23 to 25 February 2015. The main topic of the meeting was interaction between the different work packages. Many suggestions about how to improve scenario modeling based on the outcomes of transition science and participative learning case studies were discussed. For the two alternative pathways defined in the project, the modeling teams will provide narratives, model inputs, as well as model outputs, taking into account the first results from the case studies about momentum. These scenarios will then be the basis for an iterative procedure with the transitions scientists to improve the scenario. Apart from integration, the upcoming deliverables about socio-technical regimes (D2.2) and case studies (D3.3) were also discussed.

 

JANUARY 2015: REPORT ABOUT MOMENTUM GREEN NICHE-INNOVATIONS

This new PATHWAYS report summarizes the results of 12 country reports of empirical analyses of 6 to 8 niche-innovations in specific domains. The analysis is based on a socio-technical approach to transitions, including the multi-level perspective (MLP). The MLP suggests that transitions come about through interacting developments at three analytical levels: a) radical niche-innovations, b) incumbent socio-technical regime, c) exogenous socio-technical landscape.The report focuses on the level of niche-innovations. The underlying 12 country reports provide an empirical analysis of 6 to 8 niche-innovations, structured along the following three analytical dimensions: Innovation and market trajectory (techno-economic), Actors and social networks (socio-cognitive), and Governance and policy. The reports provide a relative ranking of the 6-8 niche-innovations in terms of momentum, provide an overall assessment of the momentum of each niche-innovation, and briefly describe the momentum on the three analytical categories. The complete country-reports are available by the end of January 2015 on the website (see output). 

 

JULY 2014: PUBLICATION OF TWO DELIVERABLES

At the end of July 2014, two deliverables were finsihed (see output). The first one - Criteria for analysis of case studies according to the different approaches of analysis - lays out the method for research and analysis of case studies in WP3. This includes some theoretical background information on case study analysis, the rationale for an analytic framework and a manual for the research to be performed. Moreover, the document provides more detailed information specifically on the LivingLab case study approach.

The second deliverable defines a set of initial pathways using integrated assessment models (IAMs). These report describes possible transition pathways (energy, including electricity and mobility and land use/food) that meet the long-term EU policy targets in the areas of sustainable development and climate mitigation/transition to a low carbon society. The analysis focuses on the development of the different domains over time, with specific focus on the period 2030 and the long-term targets formulated for 2050. The scenarios described in this deliverable form an input to the research activities in work packages 2 and 3 and will also be confronted with the insights from different stakeholders in work packages 4 and 5. Based on the input from the other work packages, the scenarios will be improved to become a richer description of transition processes. 

 

JULY 2014: 2ND PROJECT MEETING, MANCHESTER, UK

The second PATHWAYS meeting was organised by the University of Manchester at July 17-18 2014. Apart from two partners workshops, the case studies in the project were discussed, as well as the first modeling results (see also output). The first partner workshop focused on integration of the different approaches in the PATHWAYS project. The following starting points were used for integration: i) linking procedures and tools, ii) pathway representations, and iii) governance and policy. For each of these themes, a taskforce was set up. In the second partner workshop, the case study framework and case study research protocol for WP3 was discussed, and all the cases were presented.

 

JANUARY 2014: KICK-OFF MEETING, UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS

On January the 13-14th, the kick-off meeting of PATHWAYS has taken place in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The PATHWAYS project, funded by the EU through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), is dedicated to the "Exploring transition pathways to sustainable, low carbon societies". About 32 delegates of the project were present at this meeting, with representation of each team including the European Commission (DG Research). For the first plenary session the PATHWAYS members gathered at the 'Pietershof' to discuss integration, methodology, case studies and planning of activities.

The first day mainly focused on getting acquainted with each other and the project - every work package leader had the opportunity to describe the work involved in their work package. The second day was mostly characterized with discussion about the decided methodology and interdisciplinary brainstorming for the domains via breakout sessions.