Energy Business Transformation & Climate System Alleviation

Seminar Room
LAB-14, 700 Swanston St
Parkville 3010


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Caitlin McGrane

T: +61 3 9035 9458

An energy transition at a pace consistent with climate science requirements is not occurring due to lock-in dynamics at the social and industrial complex level. This work presents an analysis showing how the profit-maximization purpose of the energy business system (EBS) may significantly decreases the chances of achieving international climate targets and thus increase the loss of resilience at an Earth system level.

Using a highly interdisciplinary approach, applying concepts of biology, corporate law, complex system dynamics and combining major theories of large-scale societal and ecological transitions, this work introduces a framework based on understanding the energy business metabolism.

By analyzing the energy business metabolism, this seminar argues that in order to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change and avoid maladaptive lock-ins in the future, society must consider running the energy business as a ‘social enterprise’ rather than as a conventional for-profit. This implies shifting its purpose to delivering social and environmental value—where profit represents a useful tool rather than the ultimate goal.

This work lays out an action plan that suggests producing social innovation in three critical sectors: corporate law in business statutory purpose, fiduciary duties and liabilities; incorporation of social value metrics in financial schemes; and the underlying social fabric of the energy business culture to foster collaborative corporate networks and stewardship for Earth system preservation.

This seminar presents a work-in-progress paper intended for peer revision and performed in collaboration with researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

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