A bridging framework for studying transition pathways – From systems models to local action in the Swedish heating domain
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2020
Quantitative models of transitions, such as energy systems models and integrated assessment models, do not usually represent social processes, institutions and politics. Their view of societal transitions, along with the governance required to drive them, is therefore limited. Socio-technical systems approaches, in contrast, represent the social side but lack a quantitative view of the future system. This paper addresses this by bridging an energy systems model with socio-technical systems analysis and a local action study, analysing the future transition of the residential heating system in Sweden. The paper focuses on demand-side shifts that would drive a transition to a highly efficient, low-carbon heating system until 2050. A conceptual framework for bridging three approaches is introduced and applied. For example, niche-innovations identified in the socio-technical study are implemented as scenario options in the model. Landscape signals are external drivers of the scenario, and the regime study identifies barriers and governance requirements. The local action study provides insights into community attitudes affecting niches and regime change. Our results indicate that the linking of approaches is meaningful, in that it provides an enriched understanding of future systems change in many dimensions. Further research is required using a variety of models on a variety of domains or sectors to draw more generalizable lessons about bridging modelling and social science-based approaches for transition studies.