How can we decarbonise society in ways that are place-sensitive and fair? ACCESS Webinar recording

Published on 25 March 2024

This webinar was recorded on 9 May 2024. 

Climate change policy targets necessitate rapid and deep decarbonisation of energy sectors globally. In this ACCESS webinar, Professor Patrick Devine-Wright (ACCESS Director at the University of Exeter) critically discusses the challenges this poses for policy and practice, and social science.

Patrick shares a new Place-based, Just Transition framework that arose from four UK social science research projects funded as part of the IDRIC consortium. The framework is a tool for policy and industry to embed often overlooked social dimensions of industrial decarbonisation – particularly the lived experiences, knowledges and perspectives of communities hosting infrastructure projects such as Hydrogen and Carbon Capture – at an earlier stage of technology planning and deployment.

Patrick also discussed ‘extractive’ research practices in social science, offering critical reflections on ‘parachute’ projects that extract data from host communities for the purposes of research (e.g. collecting data in communities facing local proposals for fracking or large scale infrastructure deployment) and that fail to offer reciprocity to those communities. He shares a set of principles that are relevant to different aspects of the research ecosystem, from funders to University research groups and individual researchers.

Collectively, these social science frameworks and principles can recast technology deployment as an act of place-making with the potential to deliver greener, fairer and more resilient communities, and ensure social science research contributes to, rather than undermines, just energy transitions.

Patrick finishes his talk, with a reminded that where host communities are marginalized by industry practices, energy social science researchers must ensure that their research does not doubly exacerbate extractive practices. Place-based reflexivity provides a set of principles and concrete practices for researchers to avoid extractive relations with host communities and promote contextually relevant and democratic processes in pursuit of a just transition. Patrick and Stacia Ryder explore this in their paper Place-base reflexivity for just energy social science