Transitions and Government Interventions

Transition – A shift in either a mental or a physical state for a human being.

People as we know resist change. Be it a change in work atmosphere or a change in their daily schedules. This is due to the consequences it brings about – a change in their lifestyle, possibly more work, new responsibilities, and scepticisms about the future.  [1]

During this phase they need to be guided clearly by an individual who believes that this change will bring about prosperity in the future. Time and again these sustainable transitions fail like when the United States tried to shift from foreign oil to a mix of domestic energy resources. However, there are success stories as well; Brazil’s shift from an oil based transportation to a sugarcane – ethanol based transport system. [2]

Brazil is presently the largest producer of bio – ethanol and its success can be attributed to the way the government handled the situation in 1975. The government provided investment subsidies to agro-based industries producing bio based ethanol. This was done by having low interest loans. The next strategy implemented was to lower the price of the bio – ethanol, almost 60% of that of oil. During the late 1980’s the government lifted the subsidies on ethanol and it sold for around 70% of that of oil. And now, thanks to the well devised set of plans by the government and positive leadership the country has completely switched over to bio – ethanol. [2]

Around the same period, 1970’s. The United States decided that it needs to shift its energy dependence from foreign oil to a mix of domestic energy resources. One of the reasons for failure included the large bureaucratic reorganisations within the government which focused on different issues, petroleum allocation and transition, oil price controls, conservation measures and a legislation to increase energy security. Another reason was the lack of clarity wherein the policies contradicted each other, on one hand there were subsidies for domestic oil companies and oil price controls and on the other hand increasing domestic energy supplies from all sources and developing renewable energy sources required an initial increase in energy prices. Contradictory to what the U.S expected the oil imports increased by almost 8%.

In conclusion, a sustainable transition is heavily reliant on

  1. A plan and a vision for the future with the help of a good leader
  2. The government and its way to handle the volatile nature of people during this change phase.
  3. The policies made by the government
  4. Having an ambitious and not over – ambitious plan is crucial.
  5. Clearly identifying and explaining outcomes is critical
  6. People must not get caught up in bureaucratic hierarchy  




[2].       Solomon, D., Krishna, K., 2011. The Coming Sustainable Energy Transition: History, Strategies and Outlook.

Syed Aaquib Hazari