CORDIS - EU research results

Climate change and Fossil Fuels

Project description

Implications of shifting away from fossil fuels

Fossil fuels must stay underground for climate change to be tackled. While this is implicitly required under the 2015 Paris Agreement, it also implies stranding enormous amounts of fossil fuel resources and assets, which will impact big investors, debt financiers and governments. But research into these implications is limited. The EU-funded CLIFF project will address the role of big investors in leaving fossil fuels underground (LFFU), the North-South implications of LFFU, and the necessary measures to equitably allocate and accelerate the responsibilities of shareholders and stakeholders in energy transformation. Applying a comparative and transdisciplinary case study approach, the project team will combine institutional analysis with an innovative theoretical model for inclusive development.


To halt climate change, the 2015 Paris Agreement implicitly requires leaving fossil fuels (FF) underground (LFFU) and coherent financial flows. This implies stranding huge amounts of FF resources and assets (worth $16-300 trillion), affecting big investors: FF firms, shareholders (pension funds/philanthropies), debt financers (aid agencies/development banks) and governments. Research is scarce on big investors, the implications for developing countries with FF resources, and how LFFU can be equitably mobilized. Hence, CLIFF addresses the question: What is the role of big investors in leaving fossil fuels underground (LFFU), what are the North-South implications of LFFU and what measures can be taken by whom to equitably allocate and accelerate shareholder and stakeholder responsibility in energy transformation for inclusive development? LFFU has high stakes, disputed values, and urgency, so CLIFF combines institutional analysis and a theory of change for inclusive development (ICID) using a transdisciplinary, comparative case study approach. It has 4 substantive work packages: (a) a research protocol; (b) case studies on FF firms; pension funds; philanthropic foundations; aid agencies/development banks; developing countries with new FFs; (c) a geo-political analysis, and (d) an integrative analysis. CLIFF innovatively examines big investors and countries with new FF discoveries and growing vested interests in opposing climate policy implementation; and agents of change who address these vested interests (theory of change). CLIFF develops an innovative theoretical model (ICID) to analyse these actors and the changing North-South aspects, a CLIFF Interactive Atlas, and a Stranded Asset Index, co-creates equitable policy instruments; and assesses strategies of agents of change to make such climate policy instruments politically feasible and effective. Rather than ‘Building Back Better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, CLIFF strives for Catalysing Climate-resilient Change.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 499 192,00
1012WX Amsterdam

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West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 499 192,00

Beneficiaries (1)