People broadly understand the imperative to reduce carbon and there are plenty of new products and ideas in development to help cut emissions. But whether innovations fully consider the needs of the public – or help them make informed choices about changing their travel behaviours – is another matter.
Monika Büscher from Lancaster University is making an impact by bringing technology, communities and climate action closer together. She leads development of a new ‘societal readiness assessment dashboard’ as part of a national project called DecarboN8, to evaluate place-based transport decarbonisation innovations.
Monika is currently receiving support from the latest Transport Research and Innovation Grants programme, delivered by Connected Places Catapult on behalf of the Department for Transport.
Her new dashboard invites innovators, local authorities, third sector groups, communities, researchers and others to score transport decarbonisation innovations in terms of their societal readiness on a scale from one to nine – much like existing Technology Readiness Levels – and provide recommendations on how new ideas could be improved.
Achieving a six on the scale would, she explains, mean you are “doing pretty well” as it demonstrates engagement with stakeholders that goes beyond just speaking with them and ticking a box. Score a nine and the innovation promises to help decarbonise at a level “that contributes significantly to the reductions needed” while also “addressing social justice and providing societal good”.
This new scoring mechanism evaluates technology by asking how good the innovations and policies are from the perspective of both the climate and society, she explains.