Tackling the Cultural and Institutional Dimensions of Carbon Lock-in

Oxford, UK, Sunday 23 September 2018, 1–4pm

Ongoing investment in fossil fuel infrastructure binds society to a carbon intensive energy system by creating assets that lock-in future fossil fuel extraction and associated emissions. This makes it harder for low carbon energy alternatives and challengers to compete, creating a significant barrier to meeting climate protection goals. Addressing this "carbon lock-in" requires more than a technological fix—it requires breaking the hold of the fossil fuel regime over political systems, institutions, and energy cultures. This workshop will draw upon insights from the social and political sciences to better understand how carbon lock-in is perpetuated and identify the institutional and cultural changes that are necessary to drive the transition away from oil, coal, and gas. Social and political science scholars working on these issues are invited to showcase recently published findings and discuss work in progress. Participants will be asked to give speed-talks about their current research and future plans. This will set the scene for a broader discussion amongst all participants about the challenge of tackling carbon lock-in.

Workshop organizers:

Georgia Piggot
Stockholm Environment Institute

Noel Healy
Salem State University

Benjamin Franta
Stanford University

Geoffrey Supran
Harvard University

For more information, or if you are interested in participating, send an email to


Banner photo credit: Shannon Ramos 2013, Keystone Pipeline pumping station, Nebraska