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In this paper, we present findings from a qualitative interview study, which highlights the difficulties and challenges with quantifying carbon emissions and discusses how to move productively through these challenges by drawing insights from studies of deep uncertainty. Our research study focuses on the digital sector and was governed by the following research question: how do practitioners researching, working, or immersed in the broad area of sustainable digitisation (researchers, industry, NGOs, and policy representatives) understand and engage with quantifying carbon? Our findings show how stakeholders struggled to measure carbon emissions across complex systems, the lack of standardisation to assist with this, and how these challenges led stakeholders to call for more data to address this uncertainty. We argue that these calls for more data obscure the fact that there will always be uncertainty, and that we must learn to govern from within it.

Original publication




Journal article


Sustainability (Switzerland)

Publication Date