Young CBS researcher secures coveted position at Brown University: ”It is one of the best places in the world to study political economy”
“The green transition is not moving fast enough. Are we using the state too little? I think so.”
As soon as Mathias Lund Larsen enters the room, you know that he has something to say.
The young researcher, 35, has just handed in his PhD thesis on the political economy of China’s green transition. And that is a popular topic. In fact, it is so popular that Mathias Lund Larsen has just been offered a postdoc position at Brown University, Rhode Island, USA.
”I really appreciate that. It is an acknowledgement of my good work, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to gain insight into research carried out by the best researchers in political economy.”
We can learn from China’s green transition
Having studied, worked and carried out research in China, Mathias Lund Larsen is confident that there are valuable lessons in the green area that the Western world can learn from.
Even though Denmark takes pride in being trailblazers in terms of green energy, progress is in no way happening quickly enough, and the solution is in the state, Mathias Lund Larsen explains.
”Half of the world’s renewable energy is produced in China, and they have invested enormous resources in batteries and electric cars. And where we have been busy privatising energy companies such as, for instance, Ørsted, they use the state to drive the green transition. So, China demonstrates that the state apparatus in fact has the abilities we need.”
What is the state specifically to do?
The state should spend money – dare to invest in initiatives that may not yield immediate profitability. The Western countries spent significant resources on supporting the production of fossil fuels after Russia invaded Ukraine. We ought to do the same with the green transition.”
Brown University provides freedom for research
Mathias Lund Larsen has already convinced many of his colleagues in Denmark, but now it is time to present his ideas to his American peers. He wishes to work on his ideas in an ambitious research environment and publish them too.
Both of which there will be time for at Brown University.
”Above all, I am going to Brown to strengthen and solidify my ideas. I have tested them here in Denmark, but it may prove more challenging over there. My research on Chinese green transition is to become a book about how the state can be used for green transition. Green transition is not just about imposing demands on companies – it is also about using the state’s economic power, e.g. through state-owned development banks and energy companies or through foundations investing in green transition.”
”Denmark already does some of these things, but we need to scale this up to a much larger volume.”
China believes in their own ability – Denmark should too
As a child, Mathias Lund Larsen wanted to be a craftsman. But his curiosity kept revolving about how things are related, and he was constantly eager to expand his knowledge, which is why he ended up earning two double degrees and going to China. Now he is bound for USA.
”I have long wanted to research in some way or another. And I have also had a research function in private companies, academia and a think tank. But it is within academia I can excel in my work. Other forms of research are often constrained by the organisation you are in,” he says.
But years in China have given him valuable experience he can apply to his research.
”China is very conservative in terms of setting climate goals. They prefer to make modest commitments and then deliver more than they have promised. However, they believe strongly in their own abilities. In Denmark, we have the will for the green transition, but we could have more confidence in ourselves. In my research, I would like to show the Western world how the state can be used even more to drive the green transition.
Mathias Lund Larsen’s postdoc position at Brown University runs for two years.