Shareholder liability: key to energy systems transformation
“Shareholders owning corporations today are not held responsible for most relevant effects of their investment – namely emissions of greenhouse-gases leading to climate change, or radioactive residues lasting for many centuries,” Schellnhuber points out. “This is a unique situation - short-term thinking seems to be built into current corporate law.” The paper presents a thorough analysis of the structural mechanisms shaping the contemporary energy system and of possible solutions in regard to the transformation of the energy economy.
Even though both the conventional and the alternative energy system have multiple equilibria, the path dependence of the system based on fossil and nuclear fuels leads to a structural imbalance. This is reflected for instance by the allocation of state subsidies: in the period 2007-2010, 496 billion Dollar went to conventional energy, excluding nuclear, and 61 billion Dollar to alternative energy. Even perturbations like the one by the world financial crisis tend to reinforce the persisting pattern – alternative energy production is perceived as a more risky investment.
Article: Dangerman, A.T.C.J., Schellnhuber, H.J. (2013): Energy Systems Transformations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Early Edition [doi:
Weblink to the article: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/02/1219791110