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Public views of Scotland's path to decarbonization: evidence from citizens' juries and focus groups

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Ostfeld, R 
Reiner, DM 


© 2020 Scotland offers a case study of a country with significant fossil energy resources that has seen rapid decarbonization and deployment of renewable energy. We review the key policies that facilitated a 47% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 baseline levels and almost 75% of Scottish electricity being produced from renewable sources. Public views on climate policy, renewable energy, and low-carbon technologies are explored using focus groups we conducted in Aberdeen, Peterhead, and Edinburgh and citizens' juries in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The deliberative processes reveal strong public support for continued diversification of Scotland's energy portfolio to include more renewable energy sources, particularly at the local level. We also found support for increased state involvement in the energy sector. Pro-renewables sentiments and skepticism of industry pervade even in Aberdeen, the main oil and gas hub, alongside support for further exploration of low-carbon emission technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) that retain the ability to continue to use fossil fuels. Although Peterhead stood to benefit from a major CCS project, there was remarkably little awareness of the proposed project among residents. Finally, we argue deliberative processes can help both policy-makers and developers gauge where they can (and cannot) expect support.



Citizens' jury, Focus groups, Energy transition, Climate policy, Renewable energy, Low-carbon technologies

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Energy Policy

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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K000446/2)
This research was funded by the International Research Collaboration Fund of the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre, supported by UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant EP/K000446/2.