Catalyzing Pathways to
Decarbonization
Can small-scale initiatives lead to broad
transformation?
Matthew Hoffmann
University of Toronto
We need Pathways to Decarbonization
Small-Scale Initiatives are what we have
to work with (one kind of thing)
Carbon Lock-In as
Fractal Phenomenon
 Both Global System and
Individual Systems are in a state
of carbon lock-in (Unruh 2000)
Through what pathways,
mechanisms, and politics can the
lock-in be disrupted in both
individual systems and the global
system?
Linking what we need and what we have
to work with
Small-Scale
Experimental Initiatives
Broader Transformation
Theorizing the “Miracle”
Small-Scale
Initiatives
Scaling
Up and Out
Local and
Global
Transformation
Conceptualizing Scaling
 Simple
 Self-Organized
 Modular
 Isomorphic
System State
Scaling
Intervention/Initiative
Normalization
Capacity Building
Coalition Building
Transformation Pathway
Conditions for Scaling AND
Transformation
 Normalization
 Altering the Common Sense of a system
 Capacity Building
 Skills, tools, institutions, knowledge to act
 Coalition Building
 Political Support for action
System State
Scaling
Intervention/Initiative
Normalization
Capacity Building
Coalition Building
Transformation Pathway
Scaling AND Transformation through
normalization, capacity building, and coalitions
Internal Cycle
External Cycle
 Copenhagen’s Municipal Plan
 Copenhagen’s Municipal Plan
 Scaling up ambitions and
 Scaling out Copenhagen’s
action in Copenhagen
 Decarbonization in
Copenhagen
experience
 Decarbonization in Denmark
and in other cities
internationally
System State
Scaling
Intervention/Initiative
Normalization
Capacity Building
Coalition Building
Transformation Pathway
Can/Will this work?
 Cases
 C40 Electric Vehicle Network
 The Climate Group: Smart Cities
 Carbon Trust
 Learning Lessons
 Unintended Consequences
 Resources
 Counter Coalitions
 Adaptation of Vision/Mission
 Finding/Fostering Conditions of
Disruption and Transformation
We have this thing
called the “cheerful
disclaimer” – which
means we have no
idea if the idea is
going to work or
not. It’s an invitation
to have a go.
Rob Hopkins, founder of
Transition Towns
System State
Scaling
Intervention/Initiative
Normalization
Capacity Building
Coalition Building
Transformation Pathway
Moving Forward?
Is this the best way to Decarbonization?
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