Probability Amplifiers of System Risk in Transnational Energy Transition - Green technology for a transition toward a more sustainable society

 A transition towards a society decreasing its reliance on fossil is necessary for many reasons. Examples are climate change, expected increase and volatility in energy prices in the medium term, and reliance on individual suppliers, who can abuse our dependency on their resources for political purposes but also may reduce supply in case of an emerging shortage in order to satisfy their own needs (Servigne and Stevens, 2021; Yergin, 2021). While for a sustainable energy transition, the development of independent energy supply systems is required (European Commission, 2023), practice shows that large interconnected solutions are preferred, e.g., due to cost advantages, while system risks are ignored (Platje et al., 2022, 2023a). Integrated, complex networks are featured by system risks, which can lead to a breakdown of the system, threatening individual, regional, national, and transnational energy security (Smil, 2022).

In the context of energy supply, system risk can be interpreted as the risk that a certain, often small probability event, triggers irreversible damage or even collapse of energy supply due to the existence of weakest links, bottlenecks, and other types of vulnerabilities (Taleb et al., 2014; Platje et al, 2023b). Events such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, while being problematic in itself, showed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in global energy supply systems. These weaknesses and vulnerabilities need to be identified, as they create system risks requiring a precautionary approach, as the impact or magnitude of a disturbing event tends to be large-scale and irreversible (Taleb et al., 2014).

A probability amplifier of system risk is an element that:

  • increases the probability of the system risk occurrence,
  • boosts its severity (impact, magnitude),
  • or brings it closer (affecting the system risk timeframe).

It is expected that action (e.g., green technological solutions) in case of ignorance of system risk is likely to increase the probability of the system risk occurrence, boost its severity (impact, magnitude), and/or bring it closer (affecting the system risk timeframe). The reason is the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of energy supply and its supply chains, with increasing numbers of participants, their increasing geographical spread, and the increasing amount of transactions (Taleb, 2007, 2012; Pejovich, 1995). The increased complexity is related to an increasing number of random events as well as vulnerabilities embraced in bottlenecks, weakest links, supplier dependencies, etc. (Taleb, 2012; Fergusson, 2022).

From the general point of view, technology, in its essence, is the application of knowledge to address practical problems in human life. It encompasses a wide array of techniques, skills, methods, and processes employed in the production of goods and services to achieve specific goals (Gururaj, 2019). This multifaceted concept is not only a collection of tools and machines but also a social practice that reflects a society's ability to transform itself by creating and manipulating physical objects, symbols, and cultural forms (Mordini, 2007). The evolution of technology has witnessed a transition from early reliance on technological know-how in the development of tools and materials to the contemporary foundation on scientific knowledge and engineering design (Karagözoglu, 2017).

It seems that current society is grounded in socio-technological transitions, the idea that a change in technology is the basis for creating a more sustainable society (Nesari et al., 2022). It assumes that intervention in the current way of producing and consuming is a requirement for achieving a more sustainable society. Green technology is about the application of technological expertise to transform processes, methods, and techniques of producing goods from energy-consuming and environmentally unfriendly resources to energy-saving, economically viable, and environmentally friendly alternatives (Ariwa and Okeke, 2011).

Generally speaking, technology implies change, and this change is neither good, neither bad, nor neutral, as Bell (1976) argued. For the discussion about the real potential of green technology, a question is what are its hidden assumptions. These assumptions tend to be deeply ingrained in peoples’ way of thinking and to be the basis of most institutions in the existing socio-economic system. Reflecting on these worldviews may create the basis for an approach toward green technology that goes beyond a standard technofix approach toward existing problems.

Papers and presentations are invited to reflect on the issues mentioned above in the context of the following:

  • Can green technology lead to a smooth transition to a sustainable society?
  • Does green technology contribute to the increasing unsustainability of society?
  • What kind of technology can smoothen a potential societal and economic collapse in case of a climate or energy crisis.
  • Other reflections on the issue.

Paper and abstract submission and acceptance for the conference will take place in the following five steps:

1.         Submission of abstract (30 March 2024).

2.         Acceptance of abstract (10 April 2024).

3.         Submission of paper for review (1 April 2024). This is an option for participants who would like to have their paper discussed at the conference and eventually published in the journal mentioned below. Also, without full papers, participants can present their work at the conference.

4.         Feedback on paper and notification of paper acceptance (10 April 2024).

5.         Submission of completed paper (28 April 2024).

Selected papers, after positive double-blind peer review, may be considered for publication in the:

-           Central European Review of Economics and Management (www.cerem-review.eu).

The conference fee of 120 euros (bank account data to be announced at a later stage) includes meals and coffee breaks during the conference. The fee does not include accommodation, but the conference organizers can help with finding a hotel.

To submit an abstract, please email a Word or PDF file to Joost Platje at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line “ISINI SUBMISSION”.

 

References

1. Ariwa, E., Okeke, O. J.-P. (2011). Green Technology and Corporate Sustainablility in Developing Economies. 2011 Sixth International Symposium on Parallel Computing in Electrical Engineering, 153–160. https://doi.org/10.1109/PARELEC.2011.50

2. Bell, D. (1976). The Coming of Post-industrial Society: a venture in social forecasting. New York: Basic Books

3. Fergusson, N. (2022), Fatum. Polityka i katastrofy współczesnego świata, Wyd. Literackie, Kraków.

4. Gururaj, B. (2019). Role of technology in informal entrepreneurship: A case study of hairdressing saloons in davangere. TRANS Asian Journal of Marketing & Management Research (TAJMMR). https://doi.org/10.5958/2279-0667.2019.00037.3

5. Karagözoglu, B. (2017). Description and Historical Perspectives of Technology. 105–135. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-52890-8_5

6. Mordini, E. (2007). Technology and fear: Is wonder the key? Trends in Biotechnology, 25(12), 544–546. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2007.08.012

7. Nesari M., Naghizadeh, M., Ghazinoori, S., Manteghi, M. (2022), The evolution of socio-technical transition studies: A scientometric analysis, Technology in Society, Volume 68, 101834.

8. Pejovich, S. (1995). Economic Analysis of Institutions and Systems, Kluwer Academic Publishers.

8. Platje, J., Will, M., Paradowska, M., van Dam, Y.K. (2022), Socioeconomic Paradigms and the Perception of System Risks: A Study of Attitudes towards Nuclear Power among Polish Business Students. Energies, 15, 7313.

9. Platje, J., Kurek, K.A., van Ophem, J., Berg, P., Styś, A., Jankiewicz, S., van Dam, Y.K. (2023a),  Energy transition and energy autarky in the context of Dominant Social Paradigm (Working title), paper in progress.

10. Platje, J., Motylska–Kuźma, A., Will, M., van Dam, Y.K., Kampen, J.K. (2023b), Dominant Social Paradigm and ignorance of system risks - an empirical study, paper in progress.

11. Servigne, P., Stevens, R. (2020), How everything can collapse, Polity Press, Cambridge.

12. Smil, V. (2022), How the world really works, Viking, UK.  

13. Taleb, N.N. (2007), The Black Swan - the impact of the highly improbable, Penguin Books, London.

14. Taleb, N.N. (2012), Antifragile - things that gain from disorder, Penguin Books, London.

15. Taleb, N.N., Bar-Yam, Y., Douady, R., Norman, J., Read, R. (2014), The precautionary principle: Fragility and black swans from policy actions, NYU Extreme Risk Initiative Working Paper, pp. 1-24.

16. Yergin, D. (2021), The New Map – energy, climate, and the clash of nations, Penguin Books, UK.