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Low carbon innovation in China: from overlooked opportunities and challenges to transitions in power relations and practices

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Sustainable Development
Issue number4
Volume23
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)206-216
<mark>State</mark>Published
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This paper explores environmental innovation in the largest emerging economy – China - and its potential for contributing to global transitions to low-carbon, more sustainable patterns of development. It builds on earlier studies bringing alternative forms of low(er)-technology, ‘below-the-radar’, ‘disruptive’ and/or social innovation into its analysis. In addition, however, the paper develops our understanding of low-carbon innovation by paying particular attention to issues of changing power relations and social practices; theoretical issues that need attention in the literature generally but are notably absent when studying transitions in China. This shift in perspective allows four neglected questions to be introduced and, in each case, points to both opportunities and challenges to low-carbon system transition that are overlooked by an orthodox focus on technological innovations alone. These are briefly illustrated by drawing on examples from three key domains of low-carbon innovation: solar-generated energy; electric urban mobility; and food and agriculture.