Overcoming new technology barriers: Navigating the shift to a sustainable future

Swapnesh Masrani, Peter McKieran, and Alan McKinlay

The UK and Scottish governments have set ambitious targets for 2050 and 2045, respectively, in a bid to achieve net-zero carbon economies. The automotive industry represents a fundamental element of this transition, where the UK government has announced plans to ban petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars by 2035. However, to meet such ambitious targets, the question remains, how do we overcome barriers facing this new technology? This research explores the challenges and opportunities associated with transitioning to cleaner technologies, drawing on valuable insights from the historic Dundee jute industry. By analysing the complex dynamics associated with jute processing and manufacturing, this study examines the shift towards sustainability. Methodologically, the research combines archival research, document analysis, and industry expert interviews to provide a comprehensive understanding of technological transitions.

Breaking dependency: Insights from Dundee’s jute textile industry

The decline of Dundee’s jute textile industry serves as a historical backdrop for understanding the hurdles and strategic considerations that can impede or facilitate technological transitions. By studying the evolution of this context this research provides insights into the path dependent nature of established technologies and identifies two crucial conditions for successful transitions: addressing the price compared to existing costs and enhancing technological performance. Learn more.

Electric cars: A historical perspective and current challenges

Parallels can be drawn between jute textiles and the historical entrenchment of combustion fuel engines. The resurgence of electric cars has faced setbacks due to the dominance of this technology, and a strategic approach is essential to navigate the path-dependent nature of this traditional technology. While contemporary electric cars are addressing performance and sustainability issues, affordability remains a significant hurdle. This research suggests that focusing on price competitiveness is key as properly competitive pricing could sway buyers towards sustainable alternatives. Learn more.

Policy recommendations: Beyond bands to incentives

This study reveals the complexities associated with breaking free from entrenched technologies towards sustainable futures. Rather than advocating for outright bans of traditional automotives, the focus must be on overcoming the hurdles associated with the adoption of new technologies. Policy makers should emphasise electric cars are a cleaner alternative making them more attractive. First, making owning traditional cars more expensive through a “gasoline car tax” and second, introducing incentives that making purchasing and running electric cars cost-effective. This nuanced approach encourages a shift towards cleaner technologies without imposing prohibitive measures.

This research on overcoming new technology challenges in the transition to a sustainable future provides valuable insights into the complexities of breaking dependency on established technologies. By combining historical perspectives and current challenges, this research underscores the need for strategic, nuanced approaches that prioritise affordability and performance.