Phil Johnstone

Phil Johnstone
University of Sussex · Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Bachelor of Science

About

63
Publications
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Introduction
Phil Johnstone currently works at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex. Phil does research in Qualitative Social Research, Comparative Politics and Public Policy. Phil is a human geographer, and has worked on energy policy, the role of the state in sustainability transitions, industrial policy, phase out policies and discontinuation in science and technology, and nuclear [power including issues around civil-military connections in civil nuclear policy. He currently works on the Deep Transitions project at SPRU, looking at the role of war in influencing civil technological trajectories.

Publications

Publications (63)
Article
This paper addresses a major gap in sustainability transitions research: the role of shocks in shaping transition dynamics. The papers focuses on shocks with traumatic consequences, in particular World War I and II. The paper revisits discussions on the sociotechnical landscape in the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) and Deep Transition framework, off...
Article
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This paper examines the diverse ways in which science and technology are implicated in collective imaginations of urban futures in Kenya. Despite calls for a 'deep reimagining' of African urbanisation (UN Habitat 2014), globalised narratives of urban 'smartness' are intersecting with pan-African tendencies toward top-down Master Planning to constra...
Article
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Nuclear power has long offered an iconic context for addressing risk and controversy surrounding megaprojects-including trends towards cost overruns, management failures, governance challenges , and accountability breaches. Less attention has focused on reasons why countries continue new nuclear construction despite these well-documented problems....
Article
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At a time when such discussions are muted in academic enquiry, media coverage and wider energy policy, Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) have provided crucial analysis of the role that militaries play in influencing the direction and speed of low carbon transitions. 1 Indeed it is remarkable given the central role that war and the military...
Article
This paper explores the relationship between world wars and sociotechnical transitions in energy, food, and transport. We utilise and contribute to the Deep Transitions framework, which explores long-term, multi-systemic sociotechnical transitions and integrate a conceptual approach tailored to this particular topic. This approach bridges between h...
Article
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Letter: New nuclear plants would be hopelessly problematic | Financial Times https://www-ft-com.ezproxy.sussex.ac.uk/content/dfc5a772-caab-41ba-833a-b55fe1aef267 1/2 © Bloomberg 12 HOURS AGO By failing to consider alternatives in a balanced way, Admiral Lord West of Spithead ("Investment in UK nuclear power is long overdue", Letters, June 18), trea...
Article
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Industrial policy has re-emerged as an area of policy discussion in recent years, but the characteristics and role of industrial policy vary across national contexts. Particularly, the role of industrial policy in the ongoing energy transitions of different countries has received little attention. We introduce an analytical framework to explore the...
Article
This paper explores the role of the world wars in 20th century energy transitions, focusing on the growth of oil as a major energy source which accelerated after the Second World War in North America and Europe. We utilise the recently developed Deep Transitions framework which combines Techno-Economic Paradigms and socio-technical transitions appr...
Conference Paper
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Summary and Recommendations This evidence reviews the status of UK Government policy justification for its presently intense commitment to new nuclear build, as compared with alternative low carbon energy strategies. This is a central issue for the present Consultation, because it is a presumption that this justification is adequate, that forms th...
Technical Report
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“We are at war”. This was the message from French President Emmanuel Macron in March as he announced the closure of France’s land borders in response to COVID-191 . From the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, to the rare public address delivered by Her Majesty the Queen on UK television, the Second World War has become the key refer...
Article
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Academic and policy literatures are seeing a growing discussion about ‘clean energy disruption’. However, the term disruption often lacks definitional clarity. Departing from the concept of disruptive innovation and based on a review of firm-based management and socio-technical transitions literatures, we derive four dimensions of system disruption...
Article
This paper focuses on the starkly differing nuclear policies of Germany and the UK. Germany has committed to discontinue nuclear power, aiming to phase the technology out by 2022. The UK has long professed the aim of a ‘nuclear renaissance’, promoting the most ambitious nuclear construction programme in Europe. The present analysis of this contrast...
Article
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This paper explores in what ways the two world wars influenced the development of sociotechnical systems underpinning the culmination of the first deep transition. The role of war is an underexplored aspect in both the Techno-Economic Paradigms (TEP) approach and the Multi-level perspective (MLP) which form the two key conceptual building blocks of...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Evidence submitted to inquiry of the UK House of Commons Select Committee on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on Energy Infrastructure Financing
Article
Urban experimentation (UE) is seen as crucial for enacting transformations towards sustainability. Research in this domain has flourished, but still lacks theoretical coherence. We review this emerging literature, combining methods for problematisation and critical interpretive synthesis, to address two questions: how does the extant literature con...
Article
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Nuclear Monitor #804 in May 2015 included a detailed critique of the many ways nuclear advocates trivialise and deny the connections between nuclear power (and the broader nuclear fuel cycle) and weapons proliferation. Since then, the arguments have been turned upside down with prominent industry insiders and lobbyists openly acknowledging power-we...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Key Insights: China Still Dominates Developments Nuclear power generation in the world increased by 1% due to an 18% increase in China. Global nuclear power generation excluding China declined for the third year in a row. Four reactors started up in 2017 of which three were in China and one in Pakistan (built by a Chinese company). Five units...
Chapter
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The Politics of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and their Reform - edited by Jakob Skovgaard August 2018
Technical Report
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This briefing summarises key aspects of a seriously neglected current major UK policy issue, with potentially profound economic and wider implications. Each aspect is taken in turn, with a short bullet, a few lines on the main points and detailed notes at the end with a bibliography of sources.
Article
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Urban experimentation with sustainability has been gaining prominence in policy and academic discourses about urban transformations, spurring the creation of urban living laboratories and transition arenas. However, the academic literature has only begun examining why experimentation flourishes in particular cities, and why it conforms to place-spe...
Article
In this perspective article, we critically explore 'disruption' in relation to sustainability transitions in the energy sector. Recognising significant ambiguity associated with the term, we seek to answer the question: What use has 'disruption' for understanding and promoting change towards low carbon energy futures? First, we outline that differe...
Article
The energy sector plays a significant role in reaching the ambitious climate policy target of limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2°C. To this end, technological change has to be redirected and accelerated in the direction of zero-carbon solutions. Given the urgency and magnitude of the climate change challenge it has been argued...
Article
Sustainability transitions is an emerging field of research that has produced both conceptual understandings of the drivers of technological transitions, as well as more prescriptive and policy-engaged analyses of how shifts from unsustainable to sustainable forms of production and consumption can be achieved. Yet attention towards the role of the...
Article
In this short discussion paper, we discuss recent attention towards the phase out of coal in the UK and associated understandings derived from the field of sustainability transitions. While, the recent focus on destabilisation of unsustainable technologies in this field is important, we raise concerns that there is the risk of insufficient attentio...
Chapter
Full-text available
Written in the weeks following the vote to leave the European Union known as 'Brexit', this chapter sets out the 'crisis at the centre' of UK democracy and how Scottish independence and the push for more devolution within England can be understood as part of this ongoing crisis. It looks historically at how Scottish independence is best understood...
Article
In their Policy Forum “China-U.S. cooperation to advance nuclear power” (5 August, p. [547][1]), J. Cao et al. make the case for low-carbon energy trajectories that use “next-generation” nuclear reactors. However, they fail to address the challenges inherent in the reactors they advocate.
Research
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0 comments Philip Johnstone asks what we can learn from the UK's failure to develop a viable nuclear reprocessing industry Thorp reporocessing plant at the UK's Sellafield site. (Image by Sellafield Press Office) China has one the most ambitious nuclear programmes in the world. Over the next five years, it plans to build 40 nuclear power plants at...
Research
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We're very grateful to Jessica Jewell for taking time and effort to comment on our earlier blog on UK nuclear policy. We regret that it is not until now that this critique has been drawn to our attention. Had we known earlier, we would have responded more quickly. The background to our initial blog is simply stated. Commentators on all sides are...
Article
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The UK Government has long been planning to build up to 16 GWe of new nuclear power – a proportional level of support unparalleled in other liberalised energy markets. Despite many challenging developments, these general nuclear attachments show no sign of easing. With many viable alternative strategies for efficient, secure, low-carbon energy serv...
Research
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This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Research
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The starkly differing nuclear policies of Germany and the UK present perhaps the clearest divergence in developed world energy strategies. Under the current major Energy Transition (Energiewende), Germany is seeking to entirely phase out nuclear power by 2022. Yet the UK has for many years advocated a “nuclear renaissance”, promoting the most ambit...
Research
Full-text available
The starkly differing nuclear policies of Germany and the UK present perhaps the clearest divergence in developed world energy strategies. Under the current major Energy Transition (Energiewende), Germany is seeking to entirely phase out nuclear power by 2022. Yet the UK has for many years advocated a " nuclear renaissance " , promoting the most am...
Research
Full-text available
The chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, has recently been waving huge wads of cash at different (but similarly delinquent) parts of UK nuclear policy. In August, he sailed triumphantly up the Clyde to the Trident-hosting Faslane Naval base to announce £500m of investment. This was a move many considered to be jumping the gun, or even “arro...
Research
Full-text available
All at sea: making sense of the UK’s muddled nuclear policy is republished with permission from The Conversation
Research
Full-text available
The starkly differing nuclear policies of Germany and the UK present perhaps the clearest divergence in developed world energy strategies. Under the current major Energy Transition (Energiewende), Germany is seeking to entirely phase out nuclear power by 2022. Yet the UK has for many years advocated a " nuclear renaissance " , promoting the most am...
Research
Full-text available
A new ‘The Conversation’ post by Phil Johnston and Andy Stirling
Research
Full-text available
Many legitimately contrasting views are possible on the pros and cons of nuclear power. But when seen in a global context, successive UK Governments are quite striking in their tendencies to adopt partisan positions. Growing evidence is persistently ignored concerning rising costs, disastrous accidents, long lead times and political barriers, unsol...
Research
Full-text available
Two momentous issues facing David Cameron's government concern nuclear infrastructure. The new secretary of state for energy, Amber Rudd, recently confirmed her enthusiasm for what is arguably the most expensive infrastructure project in British history: the Hinkley Point C power station. At the same time, a decision is pressing on a similarly eye-...
Research
Full-text available
The starkly differing nuclear policies of Germany and the UK present perhaps the clearest divergence in developed world energy strategies. Under the current major Energy Transition (Energiewende), Germany is seeking to entirely phase out nuclear power by 2022. Yet the UK has for many years advocated a " nuclear renaissance " , promoting the most am...
Article
This paper explores the relationship between 'postpolitics' and processes of rescaling enacted through planning reform. It centres empirically on the policy shift which has occurred in planning since the inception of the Planning Act 2008-the new framework which will oversee the development of new nuclear power and other large-scale infrastructural...
Article
This paper explores the relationship between ‘post-politics’ and processes of rescaling enacted through planning reform. It centres empirically on the policy shift which has occurred in planning since the inception of the Planning Act 2008 – the new framework which will oversee the development of new nuclear power and other large-scale infrastructu...
Article
This paper argues for a closer inspection of how tolerance and politics interact. Within geography and beyond there is rising concern about post-political situations, whereby potential disagreements are foreclosed and situated beyond the remit of political debate. This is conceptualised as a process of de-politicisation that operates ‘much more eff...

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Projects

Projects (7)
Project
The Deep Transitions Research Project aims at "Learning from History to Imagine the Future”. Through historically exploring the dynamics of Deep Transitions, research results offer valuable and unprecedented insights into the players that influence the emergence, growth and maturity of transformation and provide insights into how certain socio-technical systems have become deeply embedded into our economies, policies, our culture and every day practises. Drawing on this, the project seeks to map a radically different set of scenarios for the Second Deep Transition – a shift from contemporary driving principles towards more sustainable socio-technical patterns.
Archived project
This project will look into the governance of discontinuation by observing and analysing relevant institutions, actor networks, governance strategies, and national pathways. The project will ask which forms and ways of termination are empirically real in the aforementioned sectors and which are thinkable in principle. The basic research undertaken with this project will provide indicators and appraisal practices for assessment of governance interventions dedicated to discontinuation of socio-technical systems. On this basis, a set of "discontinuation governance practices" reflecting the options and limitations of dedicated discontinuation governance will be pioneered for refinement in follow-up projects providing relevant strategic intelligence for all involved actors. The project will help to thoroughly understand, for the first time, how the discontinuation of socio-technical systems works and to define the options and restrictions on such governance activities.