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Making and doing industrial decarbonisation: firms, employees and the world beyond the factory fence. 
Steven Yearley (University of Edinburgh)
Anita Engels (University of Hamburg)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

In transitioning to low-carbon energy systems, heavier industries are among the most difficult sectors to decarbonise. This panel examines how novel strategies in these sectors can involve sharing resources between industries and adjacent or related communities, and new forms of employee-engagement.

Long Abstract:

In the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to lower carbon energy systems it is acknowledged that heavier industries are among the most difficult sectors to decarbonise. But national policy-makers, unions and industry groups often do not wish to let these industries decline or relocate entirely; they thus face a policy dilemma. It is becoming recognised that an important aspect of the low-carbon transition across these sectors can involve novel forms of engagement with employees and/or sharing resources between industries and adjacent or related communities, where we consider resources in the widest possible sense of people, skills, materials and energy. The existence of various kinds of communities – including local, civic, technical, or knowledge – also suggests a range of interactions between industries and the world “beyond the factory fence”.

Industrial actors are often thought of as rather homogenous entities, characterised by sprawling estates with cumbersome infrastructure, commonly in geographically dense clusters. While this may be the case for some, our research at Edinburgh and Hamburg has suggested that a number of contextual factors can result in companies with diverse ranges of characteristics, influenced by differing ownership models, degrees of local agency and employee participation, internal environmental oversight, and relationship to place. We contend that these factors are instrumental in making and doing transformations, shaping interactions between companies and their communities, and affecting how decarbonisation can be imagined and pursued.

This panel seeks to foster discussion on the ways that making and doing transitions can be enabled, or impeded, by interactions between industry, employees and community. We invite contributions from participants undertaking research into the social relations between companies and communities, how these are shaped by people, place and policy, and what effects these have on making and doing transitions to lower-carbon futures in various national policy contexts.

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2