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Rudderless in a Sea of Yellow: The European Political Economy Impasse for Renewable Transport Energy

Harvey, Mark and Pilgrim, Sarah (2013) 'Rudderless in a Sea of Yellow: The European Political Economy Impasse for Renewable Transport Energy.' New Political Economy, 18 (3). pp. 364-390. ISSN 1356-3467

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Faced with the twin challenges of anthropogenic climate change and 'peak oil', the need for an urgent and radical transformation of transport energy has been widely recognised. Adopting a neo-Polanyian economic sociology approach, this article asks what conditions European governance capacity to respond to these challenges, at either national or regional levels, using biofuels as a case study. It asks if the complexity of its political institutions, and the heterogeneity of interests and economic organisations, present 'the biggest obstacle of all' (Cohen 2007) to reduce fossil fuel dependency. By examining the European Commission level and comparing five countries, evidence is produced for a political failure in terms of continued fossil fuel dependency. Incumbent interests in the agricultural sector and a distinctively European legacy of a transport fleet dependent on fossil diesel, have led to a marriage of convenience between rapeseed farmers and vehicle manufacturers. As a consequence, rather than escaping from the path dependency on fossil fuels (Unruh 2000), Europe has gone down a cul-de-sac of rapeseed biodiesel inherently limited in scope, and with the low levels of greenhouse gas emissions savings. Ironically this outcome is in part an unintended consequence of opposition to biofuels from environmentalist groups and politics. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate change; peak oil; biofuels; politically instituted markets; Polanyi
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2012 20:34
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:28

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