Michael Fell, Katy Roelich and Lucie Middlemiss
Rapid action is needed in the energy sector to respond to the climate emergency. Here we argue for the increased use of ‘realist’ approaches in sociotechnical energy studies to inform this action. Realist approaches ask not just ‘what works?’, but also ‘for whom, in what circumstances and why?’. They place emphasis on understanding the mechanisms by which outcomes of interventions (such as policies) come about and, crucially, how this depends on contextual factors. This can inform action based on existing learning from a wide range of sectors and disciplines—action that is tailored to be effective in specific contexts, and can respond to the potential for unjust outcomes. In this way they can support justice, interdisciplinary working, and urgency in energy research. We consider limitations and drawbacks of the approach (and responses to these), and present a guide to getting started.
Fell, M.J., Roelich, K. & Middlemiss, L. 2022. Realist approaches in energy research to support faster and fairer climate action. Nature Energy. doi: 10.1038/s41560-022-01093-8Opens in a new tab Free access link, pdfOpens in a new tab
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