Research

RP2.10-02 Fostering social acceptance of future fuels in Australia

Executive Summary

This project is exploring community responses to, resistance to, and social acceptance of various fuels including future fuels. The research is being conducted by a PhD student based at the University of Adelaide.

The efficacy and accuracy of relevant communication strategies is a key aspect of this research project, as any social licence to operate may be influenced by a wide range of ‘truths’, perceived environmental risks and trade-offs. Understanding the critical dynamic between information, communication, and community and social acceptance of future fuels is an important research focus an matter.

The research involves community based fieldwork completed by an anthropologist examining community-level contradictions related to future fuels; for example – why a community member or stakeholder may both support Australia’s reduction in CO2 emissions but simultaneously reject future fuels that will set Australia on path to reduce CO2 emissions to sustainable levels. By engaging with community groups, environmental agencies, energy companies and government stakeholders both through online fora and face-to-face engagement the project seeks to foster enhanced understanding of why some fuels are granted a social licence to operate, while others struggle to gain acceptance and a market foothold. Such a project lends itself to qualitative, longer-term inquiry and allows for the exploration of the use of information, communication, social media and social networking in giving shape to public opinion.

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Commencement / End Date January 2021 to December 2024
Outcomes / Impact

Through improved understanding of the public with which industry seeks to communicate, and employment of the most effective methods of communication and engagement, industry will be better equipped to develop community confidence in order to obtain and sustain a social licence to operate. The research is expected to result in-depth knowledge and understanding of appropriate communications forms, methods and content that industry needs to employ when engaging with local communities about future fuels.

If industry can better understand how to influence public perceptions and social acceptance of future fuels in Australia, then resistance to the uptake of future fuels might be overcome. Such an outcome would solidify new opportunities for development and expansion of future fuels throughout Australia.

Partners University of Adelaide, Woodside, ATCO, Quanta Services
Research Contact

Dr Stephen McGrail

Research and Education Program Coordinator

stephenmcgrail@futurefuelscrc.com