Transitioning beyond coal: Lessons from the structural renewal of Europe’s old industrial regions

Vol: 
1709
Author name: 
Stephanie Campbell
Lars Coenen
Year: 
2017
Month: 
November
Abstract: 

It is often assumed that a transition to a low-carbon future will have highly disruptive and potentially devastating effects on coal regions and their communities. However, evidence from the experience of industrial decline and attempted renewal in Europe’s old industrial regions demonstrates that successful regional transition is—while not inevitable—indeed possible. Fundamental transformation of existing industrial, institutional, social and technological structures is not an easy nor straightforward process but fraught with the challenges of creative destruction: while new industrial activities and structures emerge, existing ones are broken down. Drawing on the literature of regional resilience and innovation, the paper offers lessons, insights and cautionary warnings from the experience of renewal initiatives in Europe’s old industrial regions and illustrates the ways in which some of the seeds for a ‘just’ regional transitions to zero-carbon economies may, in fact, lie in a careful understanding of the potential to build on the specific historical context of the regions industrial development and capabilities.

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