Overview of the SILCI project: Social Influence and disruptive Low Carbon Innovations
Disruptive innovations don’t just improve incrementally on what is already available, they offer something fundamentally new and different. By creating new value for consumers, disruptive innovations can shake up incumbent firms, markets, and regulations.
The SILCI project investigated potentially disruptive consumer innovations that could also help tackle climate change. SILCI researchers asked: Which potentially disruptive consumer innovations are also low carbon? What novel attributes do they offer users? How do they spread, and what role does social influence play in this diffusion process? What impact might their widespread adoption have on emissions?
Over the course of our project (2016-2021), the SILCI team answered these questions by collecting data from questionnaire surveys, market studies, interviews, focus groups, workshops, choice experiments, historical archives, and systematic literature review. We analysed these data using a range of methods including perceptual mapping, thematic coding, statistical models, simulation models, and scenario analysis.
Looking broadly across consumer innovations in energy, food, homes, and transport domains, we found good evidence of significant contributions to emission reductions and strong evidence of the pervasive importance of social influence. Looking deeply at particular consumer innovations such as carsharing, mobility-as-a-service, digital food hubs, and smart home technologies, we identified specific challenges as well as opportunities … for people, policy and the planet.
We’ve published and communicated our work through academic papers, reports, blogs, conference and seminar talks. These are all available for download from the Outputs page of this website. We’ve also distilled our main findings and insights in an easy-to-read synthesis report available here.
We are very grateful to our funders, the European Research Council (ERC), for supporting the SILCI project under grant agreement #678799.
SILCI Team members
Click on the SILCI team members below for more information.
- Charlie WilsonPrincipal Investigator
Dr Charlie Wilson is a Reader in Energy and Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA. Charlie is also an active member of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and jointly coordinates the 'Accelerating Social Transitions' research theme. His research interests lie at the intersection between innovation, behaviour and policy in the field of energy and climate change mitigation.
- Hazel PettiforSenior Researcher & Project ManagerHazel PettiforSenior Researcher & Project Manager
Dr Hazel Pettifor is a quantitative social scientist with a PhD from the University of Essex. Hazel’s research uses household survey and consumer behaviour data to analyse where, when, how and why people behave and make choices the way they do.
- Emma CassarResearcherEmma CassarResearcher
Emma Cassar is a PhD researcher in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, and a member of the Tyndall Centre's early career researcher network. Her research interest is focused on mobility and the diffusion of low carbon innovations within the transport sector. Prior to starting her PhD, Emma worked as a scientist with an environmental consultancy in Malta. She later joined the Malta Resources Authority to work on climate change policy, focusing on aviation in the EU's emissions trading scheme.
- Laurie KerrResearcherLaurie KerrResearcher
Laurie Kerr is a PhD researcher in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, and a member of the Tyndall Centre's early career researcher network. Her research interests are centred on how people interact with smart city technologies, particularly those enabling the creation and utilisation of real–time data, and what this could mean for emissions reductions. Prior to starting her PhD, Laurie graduated from UEA with a BSc in Ecology during which she also spent a year at the Institut de Géographie Alpine in Grenoble, France. She then completed an MSc in Environment and Society Studies with a specialisation in local environmental change and sustainable cities at Radboud University in the Netherlands.
- Mark WilsonResearcherMark WilsonResearcher
Mark Wilson is a PhD researcher in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, and a member of the Tyndall Centre's early career researcher network. His research interests relate to food, agriculture, and the many pressing sustainability problems facing the way food is grown, distributed, bought and consumed. Prior to starting his PhD, Mark completed an MSc in Agricultural Development from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and he also holds a second MSc in Sustainable Development from Uppsala University in Sweden.
- Emilie VrainSenior ResearcherEmilie VrainSenior Researcher
Emilie Vrain is an environmental social scientist with a PhD from the University of East Anglia. Emilie's research uses mixed methods, both quantitative and qualitative, to analyse social influences on innovation adoption, with a particular focus on smart home technologies.
- Barnaby AndrewsSenior ResearcherBarnaby AndrewsSenior Researcher
Barnaby Andrews is an applied economist with expertise in a range of fields including choice modelling, non-market valuation, ecosystem services, and wellbeing research. Barnaby has a PhD from the University of East Anglia and recent experience as a social scientist with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).