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On a wing and hot air: Eco-modernisation, epistemic lock-in, and the barriers to greening aviation and ruminant farming.

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    Rights statement: 2214-6296/ © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/)

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    License: CC BY

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-44
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date22 Dec 2017
StateE-pub ahead of print - 22 Dec 2017


The aviation and livestock agriculture sectors are major producers of greenhouse gas emissions, and have been the subject of extensive examination to develop lower impact, more energy and resource efficient technologies. Yet little attention has been paid to the challenges faced in the adoption of these lower impact technologies in these industry sectors. In this paper we seek to understand the interactions between technological innovation and socio-behavioural contexts in the adoption of more environmentally sustainable practices. Focusing on the UK (although recognising the global context of aviation and agriculture) and using a combination of literature analysis and interview data we undertake a detailed examination of these interactions. We examine why the claims of eco-modernisation theory that argue that the drive for economic efficiency will lead also to improved energy and resource efficiency appear unfounded in our cases. We identify lock-in in both sectors, finding that the barriers to greener innovation hinge particularly on the knowledge practices that pertain in the two sectors. This ‘epistemic lock-in’, rather than simple inertia and resistance to unfamiliarity, appears crucial, and must be overcome to enable adoption of lower impact technologies.

    Research areas

  • lock-in, eco-modernisation, socio-technical, aerospace industry, technological change, livestock, greenhouse gas emissions

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