Social

From the existing research on public attitudes to innovation, we can identify a set of commonly shared beliefs and values about technology, which are known to be less susceptible to change across different situations. These can be used to flag technology characteristics or modes of implementation which are associated with more positive or negative perceptions. In addition, we include indicators which reflect the ways in which different people might respond differently to different GGR proposals or different ways in which GGRs are developed and implemented. 

To make this as user-friendly as possible, we have simplified the indicators into a questionnaire, comprising 12 ‘yes/no’ questions relating to commonly-shared social readiness factors, and 4 multiple choice questions relating to socio-cultural worldviews. The questions enable identification of areas in which a project might encounter such risks, so that innovators can take action, and enable better alignment of GGR approaches with preferred implementation contexts.  

It is important that the answers to these questions are supported by robust evidence, and ideally by empirical data on the specific project or proposal, conducted by social science experts. Therefore for each of the 16 questions, proposals score an ‘X’ if no data is available. A large number of ‘X’ scores shows that social considerations are under-considered by this project, and action must be taken to support the evidence base and to identify societal risks.  

diverse group mates and creating new project in team

Approach

First, the existing research on this topic was used to identify theoretically-informed criteria for the ‘social readiness’ of technologies and innovations, and the ways in which they might be implemented and interact with society. We identified four broad dimensions, each of which encompasses a specific body of knowledge about societal considerations: Psychometric Risk Factors; Inflexibility Indicators; factors relating to Responsible Innovation; and Socio-cultural preferences. Each of these dimensions contains multiple proposed indicators.  

Within these four dimensions, a long-list of indicators was developed, adapted from previous work on evaluating climate innovations. From the long list, indicators were assessed for their suitability and applicability to GGRs and to demonstration projects. Empirical work in the field of public perceptions of GGR, and of analogous areas such as CCS, has identified several factors influencing public perceptions, such as ‘naturalness’, ‘justice’ and ‘co-benefits’; these have been included, whilst maintaining the theoretical focus stemming from the four dimensions. Another important factor is public trust; however, rather than an indicator in its own right, this is best thought of as an overarching principle which informs several of the indicators in the table.  

Indicators

  Dimension  Indicator  Question  Score  Overlaps 
Psychometric  Familiarity  Does the proposal use any materials which might be considered unfamiliar? 

Y=0 

N=1 

 
Psychometric  Voluntariness  Will members of the public be involved in decisions to deploy? 

Y=1 

N=0 

 
Psychometric  Observability  Does the proposal involve visible infrastructure at large scale or create aesthetic impacts? 

Y=1 

N=0 

 
Psychometric  Catastrophic potential  Does the proposal have any risk (even small) of catastrophic impacts? (I.e. involving or causing a sudden disaster) 

Y=1 

N=0 

 
Inflexibility  Capital intensity  Does the innovation require large amounts of capital investment and/or capital cost subsidy? 

Y=0 

N=1 

 
Inflexibility  Lead times  Does the proposal require new infrastructure or substantial changes to existing infrastructure with a long lead time? 

Y=0 

N=1 

Scale-up potential 
Inflexibility  Irreversibility  Does the proposal release material into the environment?  

Y=0 

N=1 

Environmental performance indicators 
Inflexibility  Co-benefits  Does the proposal have a single mission, for example to remove GHGs? 

Y=0 

N=1 

Business models – ‘clarity of value proposition’ 
Responsibility  Distribution of risks  Are the risks of the proposal shared equitably amongst affected parties?  

Y=1 

N=0 

 
10  Responsibility  Distribution of benefits  Are the benefits, including co-benefits, shared equitably amongst the affected parties? 

Y=1 

N=0 

Business models 
11  Responsibility  Procedural justice  Are members of the public involved in shaping the research, development, demonstration and deployment of the project? 

Y=1 

N=0 

 
12  Responsibility  Naturalness  Might the processes involved be perceived as ‘unnatural’?  

Y=0 

N=1 

 
13  Socio-cultural  Who benefits?  What is the primary benefit of the project? A) meets government targets and regulations; B) generates wealth; C) creates environmental co-benefits     
14  Socio-cultural  Who implements?  Who would implement this proposal if upscaled? A) government; B) private companies; C) local communities     
15  Socio-cultural  Who loses?  Who is most at risk in the event of failure? A) public / state institutions; B) market actors (investors, profit-making entities); C) local or indigenous communities, or the environment     
16  Socio-cultural  How fast?  On what timescale would the project be ready for deployment? A) Longer-term; B) When the proposal is ready for market; C) Very soon     

Social team

Dr Rob Bellamy

Dr Rob Bellamy

University of Manchester

Dr Emily Cox

Dr Emily Cox

University of Oxford

Dr Laurie Waller

Dr Laurie Waller

University of Manchester

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