Does organised crime distort the market for low-carbon energy production? Geographical evidence from Italy.
The transition to low-carbon energy sources is considered as one of the key policies to tackle climate change and, to this aim, many European governments have been supporting the transition to renewable energy through subsidies. Growing anecdotal evidence suggests that the generosity of incentives has attracted the interests of corrupt politicians and criminal organisations, as the wind and solar-energy sectors offer attractive opportunities for mafia to benefit from generous national and EU grant and tax subsidies and to launder illegal money via legal business structures. Yet, no academic research has systematically explored the link between organised crime and the renewable energy sector at the local level. My proposal aims to fill this gap. I plan to combine, in a mixed-method approach, the econometric analysis of innovative GIS data on the geo-location of wind and solar plants across Italy and on the local presence of mafia groups with fieldwork and in-depth interviews.
I am honoured and excited for the support received by the Regional Studies Association. Transnational organised crime has increasing economic impacts around the world. While understanding the economic and policy impacts of mafias is a critical task, the topic has so far received limited attention by regional studies scholars. The Early Career Grant will help me carry out novel GIS and econometric analyses and fund in-depth fieldwork. In so doing, I will consolidate my expertise in the geographies of organised crime and leverage further funding for a larger project on the geographical impacts of mafia organisations on public policy.