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Low-carbon transport systems and public engagement: Should we trust in mistrust?

Passengers seen from behind on a city bus. Photo.

Growing attention is being given to the role of citizens’ political agency in the development of low-carbon transport systems. In a newly published paper, we reveal the complex, intertwined nature of multiple factors explaining this phenomenon, including trust.

Using Sweden as a case study, the ‘Behavioural Insights Lab for Sustainable Energy Use and Rapid Decarbonisation’ at the IIIEE, in collaboration with LUCSUS, analysed citizens' political agency in influencing low-carbon transport systems. The team focused on three pivotal factors, namely: a) individuals' engagement in the design of transport policies, b) perceived possibilities to exert influence, and c) trust in authorities. Based on a national survey (N=1,200), researchers found out that public engagement is strongly influenced by people's perceived possibilities to exert influence, together with a lack of trust in local authorities. Findings have multiple connotations for transport and climate policy.

Curious about the details? Read the full paper (open access) published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.