Coal plant

Net-Zero, Industrial Decarbonisation, and the ‘Non-Technical’ Dimensions of Transformative Change

Head shot of Kyle-Parker    Headshot of Steve Yearley

SKAPE is delighted to host Kyle Parker and Steve Yearley (University of Edinburgh).

Kyle and Steve will be presenting on “Net-Zero, Industrial Decarbonisation, and the ‘Non-Technical’ Dimensions of Transformative Change”.


This talk reports on research being conducted within STIS as part of the UK’s TransFIRe Hub – a large investment by UKRI/EPSRC involving over 20 investigators from 12 UK institutions, in addition to Project Partners from more than 70 organisations (including companies, NGOs and government organisations. 

TransFIRe is about the meeting point of two huge challenges and transformations confronting UK industry: namely, the impacts of Brexit on international competitiveness, and the drive towards decarbonisation and the UK’s 2050 ‘Net-Zero’ target.  This is of particular importance to the so-called Foundation Industries (FI) – the energy-intensive industries that produce the material from which other products are made (for example, metals, glass and ceramics). Ordinary people are seldom customers for foundation-industry products, but they (we) buy the things made from FI outputs. 

In this talk we will draw on policy analyses and one main Scottish, industry case study to investigate how the future of the Foundation Industries is being shaped and imagined or ignored in the UK. Most of the research that is currently being conducted on FIs is focused on technical adaptations and improvements. Our emphasis is on other factors, including the planning system, political objectives, and community-industry relations. Though this research is focused on the UK, the talk has implications for comparable OECD member states. 


Kyle Parker: After working as an academic research chemist for 10 years, in 2018 I came to the University of Edinburgh to study policy support for accelerating technology development in Scotland’s marine renewable energy sector.  From 2020-2022 I worked as a Research Fellow on the ‘Energy Policy Effectiveness’ project for the ClimateXChange research agency, where I produced systematic evidence reviews on energy and climate change policy issues on behalf of the Scottish Government.  This work focused primarily on green industrial strategy, and accelerating the deployment of low carbon heating and energy efficiency technologies in Scotland.  

I currently work as a Research Fellow on the TransFIRe (Transforming the Foundation Industries Research Hub) project, studying the socioeconomic dimensions of transformative change and industrial decarbonisation.  

Steve Yearley holds the Chair in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK) in STIS, the subject area of “Science, Technology and Innovation Studies”. 

Steve is well known for his work in social studies of science and in environmental sociology. Key to his work is thinking about environmental issues from an STS or SSK point of view – for example, looking at the ways in which environmental activists have adapted to dealing with scientific evidence. 

In his empirical work Steve is particularly concerned with areas where STS and environmental sociology overlap: for example in environmental controversies with a pronounced scientific element (such as with climate change and with continuing disputes over the safety or otherwise of GMOs and the associated concerns around synthetic biology) or, for example, in attempts to foster public engagement in technical decision-making in environmental areas (for instance, through his work on citizen engagement in urban air-quality issues). Currently, Steve is working on industrial decarbonisation in the UK, and also doing some writing that links back to his work at the Genomics Forum. 


This event will take place in person at the University of Edinburgh, Chrystal Macmillan Building, Room 2.15.

Cover photos credit: Headshot photos from Transfire-Hub


Feb 08 2023


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Chrystal Macmillan Building, Room 2.15

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