CoDesign aims to systematically identify the reasons behind energy transition gaps in Austria, thereby contributing to the revision of public policies in order to increase stakeholder engagement.
Although public opinion polls show an overwhelming support for climate change actions in Austria, at the moment Austria’s community-based Climate Energy Model (CEM) Regions program is not sufficiently motivating stakeholders. There exist many cost-effective and healthier lifestyle options (such as a reduction in meat consumption and a shift to biking and teleworking), however, these are yet to translate into widespread behavioral changes. Achieving low-carbon transition, and doing so fast enough to limit global warming to below 2°C, requires the the broadest involvement of policy-makers, citizens, and private and public enterprises, and their willingness to embrace and invest in low-carbon technology and lifestyle options.
For this reason the project analyzes the existing policy implementation gap from three angles: The first is underlying contextual factors, including the overarching governance landscape and heterogeneous actor group motivation. The second is strategic considerations that hinder energy transition as a collective action. The third is user-experience and design considerations that facilitate voluntary actions.
The three primary objectives of this study are:
- to characterize the policy implementation gap facing Austria’s Climate Energy Model regions and to understand heterogeneous stakeholder motivations.
- to clarify strategic stakeholder interactions that contribute to policy implementation gaps, and to identify portfolios of policy options that will motivate stakeholders to take action.
- to co-design and co-generate low-carbon transition implementation options that will help to close the policy implementation gap.
Our research employs and develops a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, including a scoping study and key informant interviews (Objective 1), ‘Energy Transition’ serious game and applied game-theoretic modeling (Objective 2) and design-thinking workshops (Objective 3).
A successful stakeholder-led CEM program that meets Austria’s ambitious climate targets could serve as a model across Europe, where several thousand community-based groups are already engaged in bottom-up low carbon initiatives. The project will focus on one or two CEM regions as case studies, with researchers working closely alongside the CEM manager and other relevant stakeholders to co-produce and test policy implementation options for accelerating low-carbon transition. Bottom-up insights gained in this study will complement the shortcomings of the traditional ‘decide-then-disseminate’ approach to policy prescription.