Theory, Evidence and Policy
Edited by Boelie Elzen, Frank W. Geels and Ken Green
Chapter 11: Socio-technical Scenarios as a Tool for Transition Policy: An Example from the Traffic and Transport Domain
11. Socio-technical scenarios as a tool for transition policy: an example from the traﬃc and transport domain Boelie Elzen, Frank W. Geels, Peter S. Hofman and Ken Green INTRODUCTION Modern societies face huge challenges related to existing socio-technical systems which are diﬃcult to tackle without fundamental change. An example is in agriculture which exhibits various unsustainable features like BSE, foot and mouth disease, high nitrogen emissions, and so on. Another example is water supply, with symptoms like ﬂooding, soil dehydration and quality problems. Also the transport system faces structural problems like congestion, atmospheric pollution (NOx and particulates), and CO2 emissions. Such problems are deeply rooted in societal structures and institutions and are closely related to societal processes. To solve such problems fundamentally requires transitions or system innovations as is argued in the fourth Dutch National Environmental Policy Plan (VROM 2001). A transition in this sense denotes a long-term development process in an encompassing system that fulﬁls a basic societal function like food production, mobility, energy, communication, and so on. A transition implies a drastic change of the technical as well as the societal and cultural dimensions of such a system. This emphasis on the coevolution of technical and societal change distinguishes transitions from more incremental processes of innovation which are primarily characterized by technical development (successive generations of technologies) with the societal embedding of these technologies changing relatively little (see Geels in this volume). From the sustainability perspective, an important question is whether transitions can be induced...
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