Version 3.2

Low-tech’s bit to the post-carbon transformation

Disruptions of global supply chains, climate change, or depletion of non-renewable resources all call for resilient technologies that reduce energy throughput. Convivial, low-tech, degrowth-aligned (Kerschner et al., 2018; Vetter, 2018), “pluriversal” technologies (Velasco-Herrejón et al., 2022) can contribute substantially. Of particular importance are the energy sector and its major end-users and the agriculture and forestry sectors. Agriculture and forestry are highly relevant because non-food production can contribute to bioenergy production, while food production is the basis of the “endosomatic energy flow” (energy used for human subsistence and subsequently manifested in labor) and is the counterpart of the “exosomatic energy flow” in the energy sector (Gomiero, 2018; Sorman and Giampietro, 2013). However, more substantial deployment of degrowth-aligned technologies would require an extensive restructuring of the economy. To this end, we construct their production functions that can be integrated into a global, multiregional input-output (MRIO) framework that enables modeling the economy-wide impacts of their scale-up. To enable modeling scenarios that work with both the industrial technologies and their low-tech alternatives, we pair potential substitutes from both categories. As a tool to assess their usability for post-carbon and degrowth transformation, we propose a taxonomy based on readiness for use (time aspect), potential to reduce energy and material throughput, especially of non-renewable resources (sustainability aspect), independence of complex value chains (resilience aspect), and potential to balance social inequalities (social aspect). We conclude that low-tech alternatives are in many cases better positioned for the post-carbon transformation while helping to move away from the growth-oriented economy.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 16:45
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-2
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Technology and science for degrowth


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