Stranded economies? Green transition opportunities for brown industries

The transition away from a polluting, fossil-fuel powered economy towards a cleaner production system will create winners and losers in the global trade system. We compile a list of traded products whose use is bound to decline if we are to mitigate climate change, and highlight which countries are most at risk of seeing their productive capabilities “stranded”. Using methods from economic geography and complexity, we then show that countries exporting a high number of brown products, especially technologically sophisticated ones, may find it relatively easy to transition. Conversely, those relying on few, low-complexity brown products for a large percentage of export volume face a dearth of nearby diversification opportunities. Our results suggest that export complexity and diversity play a key role in mitigating transition risk.