Discourses on the desirability of sustainable transport alternatives
Wees, R.J. van der
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The widespread use of fossil fuels for road transport is resulting in environmental pollution, risks for energy security and economic risks due to increasing oil scarcity. The development and implementation of sustainable alternatives for road transport could provide a solution for these problems. However, this development of sustainable alternatives has proven to be difficult. Many processes have to be built up before an alternative can compete with the incumbent technologies. This research focuses on one of these processes, namely acquiring legitimacy. In this process, actors try to get their technology accepted as a desirable and realistic alternative. When different actor groups try to acquire legitimacy for different alternatives, they get into conflict with each other and discourses emerge. The aim of this research is to provide theoretical and practical insights into these discourses and their effects on technological innovation systems. The Technology Specific Coalitions Framework has been used to provide detailed insights into discourses between coalitions of actors. In general, it is likely that three or four coalitions are involved in discourses on sustainable alternatives. These coalitions comprise of a coalition of strong supporters of a specific technology, one that criticizes this alternative, possibly a coalition that supports a competing alternative and a group of actors that supports a broad range of alternatives. The conflicts between these coalitions seem to focus mainly on technological factors such as CO¬2 reduction potential, cost effectiveness and production potential. Additionally, the behavior of the individual actors and the cooperation between actors within coalitions has been investigated. The results of this research suggest that the goals and interests of individual actors significantly determine their positions within the discourses. Moreover, the results show that there is not much cooperation between actors to form broad coalitions to support an alternative. Instead, many actors pursue a lobby together with similar firms and organizations to reach their shared goals and defend their interests. In general, these lobby activities hamper the development of sustainable alternatives. However, one example shows that the cooperation between a broad range of actors can be effective to stimulate important activities in the development of sustainable alternatives.