Transition Realism: the implications of rent-seeking to achieve South Africa’s low-carbon technology ambition
Transition Realism: the implications of rent-seeking to achieve South Africa’s low-carbon technology ambition.
This paper is an attempt to provide an additional lens and theoretical framework to existing theories of sustainability transitions that seek to understand how low-carbon transitions can happen in an institutional setting of path dependence. A political economy understanding of transitions is more relevant in the context of developing and emerging economy countries that want to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and adopt clean-energy technology solutions. The paper looks at techno-economic shifts or transitions from the point of view of how rent-seeking behaviour by different types of entrepreneurs – either political or productive entrepreneurs – shapes transitions from old to new techno-economic regimes. It posits that political entrepreneurship can influence the pace and scale of low-carbon transitions negatively and undermine the long-term benefits from these transitions. Transitions to low-carbon technologies suggest that the old political economy can be disrupted and readjust in a way that produces more inclusive economies and reduces negative rent-seeking.