Energy flows and the process of industrialization

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This paper problematizes the process of industrialization in energy-metabolic terms as a shift from solar energy traditional biomass systems to systems based on fossil fuel sources starting with coal and then moving to oil and natural gas. This is the sequence moved through by Europe, the USA and Japan, and now to varying extents by countries in a process of transition to modern growth. But this process cannot proceed in an orderly fashion up to the point where the whole of the world is industrialized/modernized, because of linked problems of energy security, economic security and environmental security arising from the use of fossil fuels. Renewable energies pose an alternative development pathway, but one that is blocked by high costs and prices and where developing countries can produce modern biofuels by trade barriers erected by the developed world. Carbon taxes and cap and trade schemes that raise prices of fossil fuel energy systems can provide the means for advanced countries to make the transition away from fossil fuels, but they act as yet another barrier for developing countries in that they raise the cost of fuels. Instead global solutions are needed, involving opening markets of advanced countries to biofuels and bioenergy, and creating carbon credits for all renewable energy initiatives undertaken in the developing world, particularly in China, India and Brazil. The paper sketches an outline of how such a solution might work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovation, Strategy and Knowledge
Subtitle of host publicationDRUID Summer Conference 2009
Place of PublicationDenmark
PublisherCopenhargen Business School
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventDRUID Summer Conference 2009 - Copenhagen
Duration: 17 Jun 200919 Jun 2009


ConferenceDRUID Summer Conference 2009


  • energy
  • industrialization
  • socio-metabolic transition
  • carbon credits


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