EU4A7      Half Unit
Political Economy of the Green Transition in Europe

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Abigail Innes CBG 6.03


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Columbia), MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Fudan) and MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically very high. Priority is given to students from the European Institute, so students from outside this programme may not get a place.

Course content

This course examines current debates on the green transition, understood here primarily as radically reducing and eliminating carbon emissions (we will discuss the wider ecological challenges where relevant but will concentrate here on CO2 reduction and elimination strategies to enable analytical focus).

We start from the observation that, despite the urgency and necessity of a profound green transition, the proliferation of political targets and the availability of technological solutions, actual decarbonisation efforts have been relatively late, uneven, slow and often weak.

We will examine these relative failures from different angles, and contrast those with success in other areas. It seems to us that the core problems of the green transition can be broken down into a series of classic political economic problems that concern the nature of the policy paradigms, the politics of who pays and who gains from transition, and the challenges around missing institutional capacities and institutional path-dependencies.

By recasting the problem as a series of political economy problems, we can better understand those policy vulnerabilities, how they have played out, and how they might be avoided or overcome. By paying particular attention to distributive outcomes, institutional legacies, and political mobilisation, we aim to identify the crucial fault lines in current policy.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the WT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars in the ST.

The course consists of ten weekly lectures and ten 90-minute seminars. Lecture handouts or slides will be made available before the lecture. Students are expected to prepare in small groups short weekly essays of maximum 500 words on one of the weekly seminar questions in the syllabus and send those the day before the seminar to the seminar teacher.

Formative coursework

Students will be asked to prepare weekly short – 500-word essays – written in groups, before each seminar beginning in week 2 of the teaching term.

Indicative reading

  • Tony Lawson, ‘What is this ‘school’ called neoclassical economics?’ Cambridge Journal of Economics 37 (5) (September 2013): 947-983.
  • William Nordhaus, The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty and Economics for a Warming World (Yale University Press, 2013), Chapters 16 and 18.
  • Jason Hickel, Less is More: How De-Growth Will Save the World (Penguin Books, 2021).
  • Mariana Mazzucato and Carolota Perez, ‘Redirecting Growth: inclusive, sustainable and innovation-led.’ UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series 2022 (IIPP WP 2022-16).
  • Hanna Ahlström and David Monciardini, ‘The Regulatory Dynamics of Sustainable Finance: Paradoxical Success and Limitations of EU Reforms’, Journal of Business Ethics 177 (2022): 193-212.
  • Thomas Marois, Public Banks: Decarbonisation, Definancialisation and Democratisation (Cambridge University Press, 2021)
  • Matthew Paterson and Xavier P-Laberge, ‘Political Economies of Climate Change’, Wire’s Climate Change 9 (2) 2018: e506
  • Nina Kelsey and John Zysman, “Green Spiral”, in Mark Huberty and John Zysman, Can Green Sustain Growth? From the Religion to the Reality of Sustainable Prosperity (Stanford University Press, 2013)
  • Saul Griffiths, Electrify!, MIT Press 2021


Policy brief (100%) in the period between WT and ST.

The summative assessment will be a max. 3000-word policy brief on one of several questions set by the course teachers. Students will receive the questions at the end of Winter term and submit during the Spring break. We expect students to spend no more than 3-4 days on the assessment, and not to engage in original research or conceptual work outside the material for the course. In the week 11 seminars, students will be given examples of questions and discuss different approaches to writing a policy brief.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication