The Political Economy of the Low-Carbon Transition

Pathways Beyond Techno-Optimism

  • Peadar Kirby
  • Tadhg O’Mahony

Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Climate Change as Problem

  3. Development Pathways and the Low-Carbon Future

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 87-87
    2. Peadar Kirby, Tadhg O’Mahony
      Pages 89-113
  4. Pathways in Developed and Developing Countries

  5. Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 201-201
    2. Peadar Kirby, Tadhg O’Mahony
      Pages 203-229
    3. Peadar Kirby, Tadhg O’Mahony
      Pages 231-258
    4. Peadar Kirby, Tadhg O’Mahony
      Pages 259-290
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 291-303

About this book


This book addresses the global need to transition to a low-carbon society and economy by 2050. The authors interrogate the dominant frames used for understanding this challenge and the predominant policy approaches for achieving it. Highlighting the techno-optimism that informs our current understanding and policy options, Kirby and O’Mahony draw on the lessons of international development to situate the transition within a political economy framework. Assisted by thinking on future scenarios, they critically examine the range of pathways being implemented by both developed and developing countries, identifying the prevailing forms of climate capitalism led by technology. Based on evidence that this is inadequate to achieve a low-carbon and sustainable society, the authors identify an alternative approach. This advance emerges from community initiatives, discussions on postcapitalism and debates about wellbeing and degrowth. The re-positioning of society and environment at the core of development can be labelled “ecosocialism” – a concept which must be tempered against the conditions created by Trumpism and Brexit.


Population Energy GHG emissions 2050 Governance Technology Low-Carbon Transition Techno-Optimism Political Economy Climate change policy International development Developing countries Global South Sustainability Wellbeing Future scenarios Degrowth Ecosocialism Low-carbon society Low-carbon economy

Authors and affiliations

  • Peadar Kirby
    • 1
  • Tadhg O’Mahony
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Politics and Public AdministrationUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.Finland Futures Research CentreTurku School of Economics University of TurkuTampereFinland

Bibliographic information

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