Accepted paper:

Visions of green futures in energy research


Thomas Harboell Schroeder (Chung Yuan Christian University )

Paper short abstract:

This paper makes a linguistic discourse analyses extracts from selected papers representing different branches of academic literature related to energy consumption and energy demand in order to reveal and critically reflect on values and visions of green futures in relation to energy use.

Paper long abstract:

Within academic literature, there are several approaches to the understanding of society's energy consumption each with a vision of a green future. From an STS perspective, it is obvious that those approaches are both situated and carries certain values with them. Being aware of what such values and situatedness are, can be an advantage when determining the possible effectiveness of various visions of green futures. This paper therefore contains a linguistic discourse analysis of selected academic writings on energy demand to reflect on the world views within them. The topic of energy demand is chosen because energy is fundamental for civilisation and most visions of a green future therefore will carry some idea of future energy demand. The paper will focus on three different branches of literature. The first branch revolves around ways to use energy more efficiently. Problems of energy demand are seen partly as a result of barriers to rational decision making, and the goal is to eliminate such barriers to create a future where less energy is wasted. The second approach points out that energy demand is a not very well-understood result of complex socio-technical practices. It envisions that a gradually more thorough understanding of energy demand can limit undesirable use of energy by serving as the foundation for informed intervention. A third approach is concerned with the difficulties of reducing demand resulting from rebound effects of improved energy efficiency, and a green future is consequently often mainly seen as possible if fossil fuels are completely abandoned.

panel A18
Uncertain futures: green alternatives and STS interventions