University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Dynamics and deliberations: comparing heuristics for low carbon innovation policy

posted on 2023-06-07, 22:16 authored by J Ivan Scrase, Adrian SmithAdrian Smith, Florian Kern
Low carbon innovation policy is in flux. The neo-classical economic paradigm that has dominated energy policy in recent decades is loosening its grip under the challenges decarbonisation present to energy systems. Other frameworks for interpreting and responding to those challenges are available. We can see this plurality evident in the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, where neo-classical approaches sit alongside more interventionist industrial strategy and initiatives for engaging civil society in energy restructuring. Amongst the issues that implementation of the plan will involve, we highlight four as especially critical. These are: negotiating technological priorities and portfolios; long-term signals and adaptable policy; social innovation and technology fixes; and the roles of incumbents and outsiders in energy system transformation. We focus on two heuristics for interpreting these issues the multi-level perspective in sociotechnical transitions theory, and grid-group cultural theory. Both indicate how the framing of any issue has important consequences for subsequent policy actions. Our analysis does not advocate one heuristic over the other. We should be wary of any framework that claims to definitively and comprehensively incorporate all dimensions to the LTCP. Rather, we suggest a more reflexive and thereby constructive dialogue over LCIP is possible when the underlying heuristics informing different perspectives are made more transparent. Reflecting upon these heuristics might improve the inevitable politics of low carbon transition by enhancing mutual understanding, identifying common ground, respecting differences, and hopefully improving the legitimacy of what are likely to be widescale and deep-seated changes to our energy systems and our lives.


Publication status

  • Published


Science and Technology Policy Research







Place of publication


Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications


SPRU Electronic Working Paper Number. 184


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected