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Research Record: Globalizing Green Industrial Policy Through Technology Transfers

Jun 17 2024
By David Pavlak
Source Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

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The Details

Authors: Benjamin H. Bradlow and Alexandros Kentikelenis (Bocconi University)
Title: Globalizing Green Industrial Policy Through Technology Transfers
Journal: Nature Sustainability


The Big Picture

Bradlow and Kentikelenis examined whether the rise of green industrial policies in the Global North is likely to enable a truly global transition away from carbon-based economic life.

“The basic premise of green industrial policies is that they can accelerate decarbonization while enabling economic growth. The idea is that lives can materially improve at the same time that we decarbonize.”
Benjamin H. Bradlow, assistant professor of sociology and international affairs

The Findings

The researchers took a global view that addressed what it would take to spread the benefits of green industrial policies across the world.

“There is already some discussion — though not much action — for rich countries to provide finance to poorer countries to accomplish this goal,” Bradlow said. “Unless green industrial policies are enabled effectively in poor and middle-income countries in the Global South through technology transfers, they are unlikely to be effective.”

Bradlow noted that the majority of future carbon emissions will originate from the Global South and that countries like the United States cannot afford to make green industrial policies without taking the demands for green development seriously from those in the Global South region.

The Implications

This research is a continuation of Bradlow’s broader intellectual agenda about examining efforts to transition to electric vehicle manufacturing in countries in the Global South that have a long history of manufacturing combustion engine vehicles. In their piece, Bradlow and Kentikelenis detail efforts to successfully remove intellectual property rights for vaccines to show what kind of transfer opportunities might be possible for green technologies.

“My fieldwork for this project has largely been in Brazil and South Africa, which are continental leaders for manufacturing internal combustion engine cars, with significant exports,” Bradlow said. “Electric vehicles are a critical example of the green technologies targeted by contemporary industrial policies in the Global North. In the U.S. under the Biden administration, examples include a range of tariffs and laws, such as the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS and Science Act.”

He noted that middle-income countries in the Global South are nervous about accessing new global supply chains for these products, where the green transition presents an existential challenge to a key manufacturing sector.

“This is one of the most difficult and most consequential dilemmas of technological change that is shaping the global sociology of climate change,” Bradlow said.