Developed countries must completely decarbonize their power systems by mid-century if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, and developing countries will have to follow soon thereafter. This will almost certainly include heavy reliance on renewable energy sources, and could include complete reliance. In the context of such a transition, both sound technical and economic analysis and current events suggest that some degree of cooperation and power system integration between Europe and the neighboring Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will be attractive, will likely occur, and may even be essential in order to overcome European land constraints. However, the prospect of such cooperation raises a set of related social and governance issues—challenges to be understood and if appropriate overcome—that so far remain under-researched. These include: the social acceptance of devoting large land areas to renewable power generation, centralized and decentralized, in one’s own back yard and in far off places; the governance options to resolve competing interests for scarce resources for such generation, primarily land and water; the human development implications of this cooperation in the MENA region, and ways of arriving at improved outcomes; and, the construction and maintenance of a functional integrated power system across a set of disparate political and regulatory systems. Each issue raises several research questions, with important synergies and commonalities across the entire set. The goal of this project is to provide robust answers to these questions, based on the application of the most appropriate research methods, be they qualitative or quantitative, empirical or modeling-oriented. The answers will contribute to the social science literature on sustainable development, ecological modernization, and transitions governance. They will also provide timely insights to policy-makers facing the need to make strategic choices by the end of this decade.
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FinanzierungsplanERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant