Public Values for Energy Futures: Framing, Indeterminacy and Policy Making

Catherine Butler, Christina Demski, Karen Anne Parkhill, Nick Pidgeon, Alexa Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the UK there are strong policy imperatives to transition toward low carbon energy systems but how and in what ways such transitional processes might be realised remains highly uncertain. One key area of uncertainty pertains to public attitudes and acceptability. Though there is wide-ranging research relevant to public acceptability, very little work has unpacked the multiple questions concerning how policy-makers can grapple with and mitigate related uncertainties in efforts to enact energy systems change. In this paper, public acceptability is identified as an indeterminate form of uncertainty that presents particular challenges for policy making. We build on our existing research into public values for energy system change to explore how the outcomes of the project can be applied in thinking through the uncertainties associated with public acceptability. Notably, we illustrate how the public values identified through our research bring into view alternative and quite different problem and solution framings to those currently evident within UK policy. We argue that engagement with a wide range of different framings can offer a basis for better understanding and anticipating public responses to energy system change, ultimately aiding in managing the complex set of uncertainties associated with public acceptability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-672
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy policy
Early online date7 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

(c) 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Energy Policy. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

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