Thèse – Economic growth, energy use and climate change : a historical and prospective approach

Thesis defended by Emmanuel Bovari, Université Paris 1, on December 11th 2020.

Achieving the energy shift requires an evolution of the structural and financial structures to develop, finance, and deploy low-carbon assets. Based on a historical and prospective approach, this PhD thesis develops four essays devoted to an analysis of the viability of the energy shift within the framework of a structural approach. The first chapter focuses on the role of energy in long-term growth focusing on the industrial revolution. We show that, once human capital, technical progress and demography are taken into account, energy appears more as a catalyst than as a root cause of modern economic growth. These results suggest that non-fossil fuel-dependent growth may be possible, but that it may have potentially large transition costs, particularly because of the dependence on technological pathways. The second and third chapters address the trade-off between financial and climate sustainability at the global level. We show that a comprehensive and proactive set of climate policies is needed to achieve a balanced growth path and to control both risks. The last chapter deals with citizens’ attitudes towards renewable energy financing through the case of crowdfunding in France, a relevant instrument to diversify the investor base and raise awareness. We show that the policy framework is essential for the success of such instruments, as investors are mainly guided by their views on the sustainability of the sector, the transparency of investment opportunities and the perception of risks.

Access the thesis online

Thesis Director: Gaël Giraud, Research associate