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Institute for Renewable Energy - News & Events - Digitalization and deep decarbonization pathways

06 December 23

Digitalization and deep decarbonization pathways

New Eurac Research analysis shades light on the levers of transformation, in the context of energy infrastructure digitalization and the Italian smart meter roll-out.

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The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes the fundamental importance of a rapid and deep reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors. To achieve the target, attention often focuses on deep decarbonization pathways, which redirect investments towards low-carbon technologies improving energy efficiency, as well as policies that affect consumption practices and engage citizens for digital and energy transitions.

What this report also recognize is the missing explicit integration of questions of "global equity", environmental justice or income distribution when outlining the necessary decarbonization transition pathways emphasizing the need to move beyond "technical governance" and confront deeper social values to achieve the necessary changes.

A new published scientific paper by Eurac Research in collaboration with JRC, published on the Journal Energy Research & Social Science tries to shade light on the levers of a lasting transformation, in the context of the energy infrastructure digitalization and the Italian smart meter roll-out.

The work highlights the following key findings: Pathways are evolving between two different value systems: energy as a commodity and energy as a common good. The first one can be best described as opting for technological progress, changing consumer behavior, to address energy poverty and social justice, building on market-based instruments and new business models. The second questions the technological solutions and emphasizes energy sufficiency, rises environmental justice considerations, and calls for corrective principles by regulatory means.

More research is needed on the forming of coalitions that might capitalize on defined narratives, and especially how this has been impacting policy-making processes. And might it help to re-connect to visions and values of a good life, generating actionable knowledge and re-structuring formal and informal institutions in societal experimentation for driving the needed deep decarbonization?” comments Sonia Gantioler, first author of the study.

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