State-owned Enterprises and Clean Energy Innovation

Since the turn of the last century a major change has been occurring in the global economy, with significant — but understudied — implications for climate change. After decades of decline since the end of the Cold War, state-owned economic institutions, have re-emerged as some of the most significant actors in the global economy. State-owned enterprises sit alongside private firms as some of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, and state financial institutions still control trillions of dollars of capital in support of a range of sectors and industries. This matters for climate change, because state firms finance, manage, extract and consume large portions of the world’s fossil fuels, they also control non-energy assets which will be impacted by climate change. Despite this, too little is known about how state economic institutions are responding to rising global emissions and there has been too little emphasis placed on designing policy responses which take account of state institutions.

State-utilities and clean energy innovation

Nowhere is the role of the state more significant than in the energy sector, the largest single contributing sector to global greenhouse gas emissions. Focusing particularly on state-utilities, an ongoing research project studies state-utilities and clean-energy adoption. The project seeks to understand why some utilities have adopted more clean-energy technologies than others. The project is cross-national in focus, drawing on a global asset level dataset of global energy generating capacity.

In time, additional research projects will explore other dimensions of state-capitalism and climate change, including how state institutions are considering and managing climate risks.

The lead for this project is Arjuna Dibley, a Graduate Fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center and doctoral candidate at the Law School. For further information, please email him directly at: