Article InformationEdit

Title: Technology as a promise for environment: a comparative approach on green policies of two energy technologies in France and in the United Kingdom

Author(s): Dalya Guérin

Affiliation: Université Panthéon-Sorbonne Paris 1

Presented At: STiS 2008

Primary Topic Area: Environmental Policy


Renewable energy and nuclear energy are both discussed as solutions to global warming by the major stakeholders of the politics of climate change (Helm). In this presentation, we want to point out that these two kinds of energy are based on differing political visions about the place of technology in the environment and society.

Industry and national public policy are both involved above all in the promotion of these energy technologies, which have evolved in a historical and economic context in France and in the UK. The stress put by major stakeholders on climate change can be, on one hand, a way of giving a new image to a contested technology (Zonabend, 1993,138; Bess), and on the other, a way of excusing slow development of the efficiency of a new technology (Lovins, 1979, 450).

Nuclear and wave technologies are competing in a scientific field where the place of technology in the environment and society stems from philosophical and ideological views. We will study then how they reply to climate change mainly through a comparison of energy experts’ representations. Climate change policy was born from an overlapping of several trends in scientific fields, which both kinds of energy technology have to take into account because of international and European expectations (Bijker Wiebe E., Hughes Thomas P., and Pinch Trevor J. ).

Eventually, we will put the stress on the connection of renewable energy and nuclear energy to the politics of climate change in a local area, where technology is directly linked to local issues. The symbolic stakes of scientific policy at a local level are part of a larger pragmatic issue, as they embody meanings and obstacles to action in climate change policy.

The political visions of the place of technology in the environment and society we noticed in studying both kinds of energy will provide clues for a reconceptualization of the role energy systems play in western society. (Gras Alain 1941-....4070 1993; Gras Alain 1941-.... 4070 1997). Hughes’ critical work on large technological systems (Hughes Thomas Parke and Agatha Chipley, 2001) could provide, in this way, an interesting element to understanding how local and global matters in energy technologies come together in the politics of climate change.

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