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Macaulay Development Trust Project in Land Use and Societal Metabolism

What is Metabolism??

Scotland’s Net Zero by 2045: Modeling societal metabolic potentials and scenarios toward emissions reductions

As humanity faces the complexities of ecological, material, and economic crises, the need to integrate multilevel political, institutional, and industrial ecologies into trajectories of sustainability becomes ever more urgent. Though discourses of net zero, just transition, green recovery, and ‘socio-ecological transformation” have emerged, scholars are challenged to measure and monitor these developments in both integrative and multilevel ways. To this end, societal metabolic analyses (SMA) offer a multidimensional and cross-scale method of understanding and examining sectoral and regional developments through material flows, energetic, and social accounts (Giampietro et al. 2014; Giampietro, Mayumi, and Sorman 2011). SMA define and integrate views of: industrial sectors; workforce capacities; land use patterns; energy use; economic value, and other flows. Such metabolic analyses can provide useful insights into relations between political discourse and practical action, multi-level actors and biophysical flows, policy tools, and coherence toward the ‘greening’ of economies, ‘green recoveries’, net zero, and a more ecologically just world.

Scotland—and other nations—has expressed great ambitions for not only a post-covid ‘green recovery’ (SG 2020) but also a ‘net zero by 2045’with interim targets for 2030 and 2040 with, respectively, 75% and 90% lower emissions than a baseline net zero (SP 2019). Besides noting that these targets must be ensured by Scottish Ministers, there is also little material detail on how these targets will be met (SP 2019).

Using this policy case of Scotland’s ‘net zero by 2045’, we operationalize metabolic analyses to assess the challenge and possible tradeoffs of maintaining stable household and paid-work sectors while transitioning to electricity and other low-carbon energy carriers, while trying to activate greener activities in land use and other industrial sectors. This analysis aims to model a number of different scenarios that include: status quo, net zero, progress to net zero, and degrowth.

Keywords: Societal metabolic analyses, socio-ecological transformation, net zero, green recovery, sustainability.

 

Public Media

For a simplified explanation of this project, see here: poster view

For a video presentation of the project see here: Systems@Hutton

For the lightning talk, see here: lightning talk

PowerPoint Presentations
 
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the 6th Nordic Science and Technology Studies Conference, Oslo, Norway, 7 June 2023, see here: PowerPoint
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the Second International Conference on New Pathways for a Just and Inclusive Energy Transition: Connecting Multiple Stakeholders and Levels, University of Groningen, Netherlands, 21 June 2023, see here: PowerPoint
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the People, Place, and Policy Annual Conference: Justice during Crisis, Sheffield, UK, 21 June 2023, see here: PowerPoint
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the Society of Geographical Studies Conference - Geography and Political Ecology: Theories, Practices, Discourses, Milan, Italy, 29 June 2023, see here: PowerPoint
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the 11th International Conference on Industrial Ecology, Leiden, Netherlands, 4 July 2023, see here: PowerPoint
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the Systems@Hutton Seminar Nordic A, UK, 8 August 2023, see here: PowerPoint
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the British Institute of Energy Economics Research Conference, Oxford, UK, 21 September 2023, see here: PowerPoint
  • For the PowerPoint presentation given at the Beyond Oil Conference in Bergen, Norway, 18 Oct. 2023, see here: PowerPoint
Reference
 
  • Giampietro, Mario, Richard J. Aspinall, Jesus Ramos-Martin, and Sandra G. F. Bukkens, eds. 2014. Resource Accounting for Sustainability Assessment: The Nexus between Energy, Food, Water and Land Use. Abingdon; New York: Routledge.
  • Giampietro, Mario, Kozo Mayumi, and Alevgül H. Sorman. 2011. The Metabolic Pattern of Societies: Where Economists Fall Short. Abingdon; New York: Routledge.
  • SG, (Scottish Government). 2020. Update to the Climate Change Plan 2018 – 2032: Securing a Green Recovery on a Path to Net Zero. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
  • SP, (Scottish Parliament). 2019. Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2023 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2019/15/enacted).

Contact

Email: jean.boucher@hutton.ac.uk

Staff page: https://www.hutton.ac.uk/staff/jean-boucher

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project

Research

Areas of Interest


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.