Öko-Institut Working Paper 2/2017

Governance of exnovation: phasing out non-sustainable structures

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Politics and research have been primarily concerned with the quite appealing side of trans-formations: the new. But innovations and their promotion are often insufficient for replacing established non-sustainable structures that are still economically functioning (sometimes helped by subsidies). The promotion of renewable energy has for example been insufficient to push climate-damaging coal out of the energy market. The focus on innovation should thus be complemented (not replaced) by a stronger occupation in politics and research with “exnovation”: the exit from non-sustainable infrastructures, technologies, products and practices. Given path dependencies and resistance of established actors, political exnovation intentions face significant challenges. It must thus be asked which measures are appropriate for political enforcement of exnovation, and how the exnovation process can be carried out in a socioeconomically acceptable manner. This paper discusses the challenges as well as governance approaches, based on a combination of scientific literature with past and present political case examples. It is intended to provide a conceptual frame as well as a practically orientated impulse for further discussion on various exnovation and structural change processes that are necessary for environmental reasons.