EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M008053/1
Title: Opportunities and Barriers to Achieving Transitions in UK Energy and Materials Use - The Role of Publics, Society and Decision-Makers
Principal Investigator: Pidgeon, Professor NF
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Psychology
Organisation: Cardiff University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2015 Ends: 31 March 2019 Value (£): 598,784
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Aug 2014 Working with Centres (Full) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK Government has an ambitious target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, and energy demand reduction will have to play a major part in meeting this goal. While traditional research on mitigation of carbon emissions has focused on direct consumption of energy (how we supply energy, what types of fuel we use, and how we use them etc.), the role that materials and products might play in energy demand reduction is far less well studied. One third of the world's energy is used in industry to make products, such as buildings, infrastructure, vehicles and household goods. Most of this energy is expended in producing the key stock materials with which we create modern lifestyles - steel, cement, aluminium, paper, and polymers - and we are already very efficient in producing them. A step change in reducing the energy expended by UK industry can therefore only come about if we are able to identify new ways of designing, using, and delivering products, materials and services.

Before firm recommendations can be made to decision-makers regarding the combined technical and social feasibility of new products and material strategies, a fundamental set of research questions will need to be addressed. These concern how various publics will respond to innovative proposals for product design, governance and use. For example, more energy efficient products may need to operate differently or look very different, while a significant shift from an ownership model to a service delivery model (e.g., direct car ownership to car clubs and rental) can also deliver considerable material efficiency and energy demand reduction. Will members of the wider public and key decision-makers welcome, oppose, or actively drive such supply chain innovations, and what are the implications of knowledge about public views for decision-makers in the corporate and government sector? Understanding the answers to these questions is the main focus of this project.

The research led by Cardiff University, and partnered with the Green Alliance, will combine qualitative and quantitative social science methodologies - in particular expert interviews and workshops, deliberative research and a (GB) national survey. The project has 4 phases, spanning a 45 month period. Work Package 1 involves initial work with UK INDEMAND partners, and interviews with industry and policy representatives, to identify the assumptions being made about people and society in key pathways for materials energy demand reduction. Work Package 2 involves four workshops - held in Edinburgh, Cardiff, London and a rural location - where members of the public will deliberate the identified pathways to change. In Work Package 3 we will conduct a nationally representative survey of 1,000 members of the British public, further exploring public perspectives on ways of designing and changing our use of materials.

A particularly innovative aspect of the project is a set of targeted policy engagement activities (in Work Package 4) where we will hold workshops, interviews and other direct stakeholder involvement, exploring the implications of the findings about public views with key decision-makers in UK businesses, policy and the political sphere (including Parliamentarians through the Green Alliance's Climate Leadership programme for MPs). Along with the empirical data gathered in Work Packages 1, 2, and 3, the activities in Work Package 4 will allow us to formulate clear recommendations for action on achieving a reduction in UK final energy consumption through bringing knowledge of social barriers and opportunities to bear on governmental policy and industry decision-making about innovative materials and products delivery/use.

Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.cf.ac.uk