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Sustainability Science Volume 7 Number 1, January 2012

Socio-technological transitions towards sustainable energy and climate stabilization


Deadline: 1 January 2012

The energy sector is a major contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of developed countries.  Efforts to transition to cleaner, renewable energy systems have been slow, hampered by increased energy demand in a digitized society, and the quick development of BRIC countries which largely rely on cheap, traditional fossil fuel sources of energy.  Increased urbanization is changing the structure of society and energy use in ever expanding cities and Asia is experiencing this change most quickly. 

In the last 60 years the urban population grew nearly 7 fold in this region, with a corresponding increase in energy demand that is yet projected to grow by anywhere between 72% to 118% until 2035, led by the economies of India and China.  The Asian consumer class, already at 680 million strong is also projected to increase dramatically. However the bottleneck in the acquisition of clean energy technologies to power this urban expansion has not been on the engineering side, as the technical progress is outpacing society’s ability to deploy these technologies effectively, while the economic, political, legal and socio-cultural aspects of an energy transition have been to some extent neglected by proponents. 

Special Issue Themes

This special feature will highlight transition scenarios towards sustainable energy and climate stabilization by comparing the costs and mitigation potentials of major GHG emitting countries, paying attention to societal factors that steer energy technology development.  The collection of papers will present a general framework for decision makers for improved energy technology deployment addressing this issue from both the technical and policy side.

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) Working Group 3 (WG3) provides an analysis of mitigation options, GHG reduction potentials and costs but these global projections vary widely depending on models used and socio-economic assumptions.  In this feature mid-term mitigation potentials and regional marginal abatement cost (MAC) comparison will cover some major emitting countries.  Focusing on the energy sector, therefore, these first papers will use modeling to study and compare technological feasibility of mitigation targets.

Call For Papers

A second theme is the object of the call for papers and will bring the modeling into perspective by pairing it with insights on how configurations of technologies, institutions, and government and private actors can create conditions for a sustainable transition to a low carbon society that meets its emission targets, particularly in Asia.  What kinds of  governance systems are needed to accept the costs of mitigation?  How can collaborative learning take place to standardize beneficial practices, or alter patterns of institutional organization and behaviour to break institutional and technological lock-in, for example the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s recent attempt to replace diesel with low-emission vehicles?   What are examples of some recent policy experiments supporting these transitions?

Proposed Topics for this Special Issue:

Mitigation Potentials and Costs

  • Comparison of GHG mitigation potentials and costs in transition scenarios toward climate change stabilization

Socio-technological transitions (call for papers)

  • Socio-political context of technology deployment
  • Learning in socio-technological regimes
  • Escaping institutional and technological lock-in
  • Sustainability experiments
  • Mechanisms for technology and knowledge development, transfer and diffusion
  • Systems of innovation and co-operation at regional, national, and global scales
  • Intellectual property rights, investment, finance around clean energy

Submission Process

Original manuscript submission deadline is no later than June 15th, 2011 and must be made electronically through Editorial Manager at the link below. Authors are asked to register an author account, then follow the process for submission.  

Enquiries about articles’ suitability for the special feature (attach your abstract) or other matters should be made to the Editorial Office at

Complete manuscript submission guidelines are available at where authors are urged to visit prior to submission.