Policy ForumClimate Policy and Innovation

Sociotechnical transitions for deep decarbonization

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Science  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1242-1244
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3760

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Summary

Rapid and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emission are needed to avoid dangerous climate change. This will necessitate low-carbon transitions across electricity, transport, heat, industrial, forestry, and agricultural systems. But despite recent rapid growth in renewable electricity generation, the rate of progress toward this wider goal of deep decarbonization remains slow. Moreover, many policy-oriented energy and climate researchers and models remain wedded to disciplinary approaches that focus on a single piece of the low-carbon transition puzzle, yet avoid many crucial real-world elements for accelerated transitions (1). We present a “sociotechnical” framework to address the multidimensionality of the deep decarbonization challenge and show how coevolutionary interactions between technologies and societal groups can accelerate low-carbon transitions.