The destabilisation of existing systems is an emerging research and policy concern related to socio-technical transitions. Accelerating low-carbon transitions requires not only the deployment of alternative options, but also dealing with inertia and lock-in of existing systems and actors that tend to resist, slow down or prevent transition efforts. Relying only on emerging options and innovations without considering the destabilisation and discontinuation of incumbent systems considerably reduces the possibility of socio-technical transitions. Accelerating low-carbon transitions requires the active phase-out of high-carbon activities, with destabilising effects on existing systems which can only be appropriately handled if their potential trajectories and outcomes are anticipated.

“Within the fields of innovation studies and transitions theory, processes of emergence and stabilisation are better documented and more widely discussed than those of disappearance, partial continuity and resurrection”

Shove, E., 2012. The shadowy side of innovation: Unmaking and sustainability. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 24, 363–375.

“scholars have studied novelty and the introduction of innovation, its adoption and dissemination or resistance to novelty, but never the destruction or withdrawal of something”

Goulet, F., Vinck, D., 2017. Moving towards innovation through withdrawal: The neglect of destruction, in: Godin, B., Vinck, D. (Eds.), Critical Studies of Innovation: Alternative Approaches to the Pro-Innovation Bias. Edward Elgar, pp. 97–114.

“current policies [supporting renewables and energy demand reductions] are not enough to affect global emissions, or are slow to have a detectable effect, or simply fail to directly address the root cause of the problem: phasing out CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels”

Peters, G.P., Andrew, R.M., Canadell, J.G., Friedlingstein, P., Jackson, R.B., Korsbakken, J.I., Quéré, C. Le, Peregon, A., 2020. Carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow amidst slowly emerging climate policies. Nature Climate Change 10, 3–6.