The practice of “technological forcing,” understood as policy designed to accelerate technological innovation for the purposes of environmental protection, was pioneered in the USA during the 1970s and continued in Europe with feed-in tariffs for renewable energy and the emissions trading scheme. In order to draw lessons for climate policy, the article tests the capacity of “technological forcing” to translate ecological modernization theory into effective policy and practice, by providing analysis of three case studies. It argues that ambitious climate policies require not only technical proficiency in policy design, but also greater acknowledgment of the need to achieve structural change in major industrial sectors. It concludes that technology-based policies need to be accompanied by economic and political strategies to counteract incumbent resistance, and delineates potential means to do so.

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