CC(U)S Futures: exploring workforce imaginaries

Factory chimneys at Grangemouth in Central Scotland
Factory chimneys at Grangemouth in Central Scotland

CC(U)S Futures: exploring workforce imaginaries to improve organisational learning works with businesses and organisations in Scotland to explore how workers imagine carbon capture, usage and storage might change landscapes and lives, and hence to improve organisation learning about workforce perceptions. The link between greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere and global climatic conditions and weather patterns is undeniable. It is now widely acknowledged (through the UN's IPCC and other mechanisms) that the world is on a course for damaging increases in average temperatures if we do not implement measures to reduce our emissions of GHGs and to capture and sequeseter GHGs, particularly CO2. It is likely that we will need to adopt a range of strategies, and carbon capture, use and storage (CC(U)S) is one of the approaches that governments around the world - including in the UK - are currently prioritising for research and development. 

However, implementation of CC(U)S at scale (along with other net zero programmes) requires restructuring of work and infrastructural changes on a scale not previously attempted in the 21st century. The UK's industrial decarbonsiation strategy is being developed and led through a series of regional "clusters" which bring together industry, academic researchers and policy-makers. CC(U)S is envisaged as being particularly important in the Scottish Cluster, which has historically been home to much of the UK's oil, gas and petrochemicals industry.

It is those working in the industries represented in these clusters who will be most immediately and directly affected. Unlike previous infrastructural changes (e.g. canal/railway construction, gas plumbing, electrification) people now expect to be consulted and included in decisions affecting their lives, work opportunities and neighbourhoods. However, consultation does not guarantee agreement. Several CC(U)S and other infrastructural change projects around the world have been delayed or halted because of public resistance. Workforce understanding is thus critical to the success of decarbonisation for inward-facing (commitment to the programme and required changes to practice; leveraging local knowledge) and outward-facing (local community membership) reasons.

CC(U)S Futures: exploring workforce imaginaries to improve organisational learning mobilizes the collective knowledge of industry-based workers in the Scottish Cluster to identify practical, sociocultural and economic challenges and opportunities in place- and sector-specific decarbonisation. We use place-based participatory specualtive fiction (PBPSF) processes being developed by the team following successful application in other projects and contexts. By first thinking about past changes to local lives and landscapes, we will engage people working in organisations in the Scottish Cluster in a process of imagining how implementing CC(U)S in their own industries might change lives and landscape in the future – that is, their “CC(U)S imaginaries”.

Project processes

We are undertaking the following sequence of activities for each organisation we work with:

  1. Archive and library resource to source location-specific workshop materials.

  2. Workshops with workers (up to 12 participants per workshop): reflecting on local pasts and imagining local futures.

  3. Synthesis and elaboration of initial stories into CC(U)S Futures narratives and check-in with workshop participants.

  4. Analysis for aspirations, fears, expectations and misconceptions.

  5. Consultation with organisations on findings.

As well as revealing aspirations and fears, this process will also help to bring to light expectations and misconceptions that may need to be addressed before a social licence will be possible.

CC(U)S Futures: exploring workforce imaginaries to improve organisational learning is funded by the EPSRC through the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) Flexible Fund. For more information, contact PL Anna Wilson ([email protected]).


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