Automobility and Oil Vulnerability

Unfairness as Critical to Energy Transitions

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal ana.horta@ics.ulisboa.pt
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Abstract

Climate policies in the European Union require a substantial reduction in carbon emissions from road transport. However, in the last decades the system of automobility has expanded considerably, establishing a process of path dependence that is very difficult to reverse. Changes in current patterns of automobility may increase oil vulnerability of citizens dependent on the use of the car, aggravating forms of social inequity. Based on an analysis of how television news framed a period of oil price rises in a country highly dependent on car use, the article shows that oil vulnerability may resonate with socially shared sociocultural meanings such as lack of trust in political leaders, which may aggravate the social perception of unfairness and compromise public support for energy transitions toward sustainability.

Contributor Notes

Ana Horta is Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon (Portugal). She holds a PhD in Sociology from ISCTE-IUL (University Institute of Lisbon). She has been involved in a range of projects on energy, climate change, environmental issues, and consumption. Currently, her main research interests are focused on social practices and representations related to household energy consumption, energy poverty, energy transition, and media discourses on energy issues and climate change. She is a member of the coordination team of the Environment and Society section of the Portuguese Sociological Association. Address: Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa, 1600-189 Lisbon, Portugal. E-mail: ana.horta@ics.ulisboa.pt. ORCID: 0000-0002-2921-039X.

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