Tool: Deeper Dive

What is this tool?

From discussions with many different SoRA users we periodically distil a list of frequently asked, important, or interesting questions. These can serve as a source of inspiration if you would like to increase the societal readiness of your project.

The purpose of considering these questions is creative reflection, not to find hard and fast answers to tick societal readiness boxes. Be prepared to explore hidden challenges and opportunities related to your project. There may be many different but equally ‘good’ responses.

Debating what ‘good’ means is core to this activity. As a rule of thumb, responses that are sensitive to context, recognise diverging, and sometimes conflicting stakeholders, interests and values, and are alert to complex emergent dynamics, are often good.

Deeper dive reflection is best done with other people. This could be members of your team, critical friends, experts, or stakeholders.

Please note that projects may be assessed at various stages. Social justice aspects, for example, may have been considered in the past or may be addressed in the future. We don’t want to overcomplicate the questions and therefore use the present tense throughout. Feel free to adapt the questions to address past or future actions – ‘How did or how will the project team work out who should have a say in the design process?’.

The benefits of considering these questions in a reflective and creative mode include:

  • Inspiration and a better sense of direction
    through attention to values, complexities, emergent dynamics.
  • Increased capacity to deal with barriers
    through greater awareness of things that might make it difficult for people to appropriate or be part of the project and other obstacles.
  • Increased chance of success
    through focused efforts to explore hidden aspects and anticipate challenges and opportunities.

Practically, you can use the pages below in different ways, as many times as you find useful. For example, could

  • Treat it as a canvas to record your responses at a particular time – individually or in groups.
  • Use it as a set of prompts for open discussion, addressing some or all of the questions.
  • Split into different groups to address the different SoRA dimensions or different questions in each section.

Carbon Reduction

How do you approach maximising the carbon reduction of your project? For example, do you calculate or use a local carbon budget?   More detailed guidance is available, for example at:   If you are in the UK, you might also find the UK Department for Transport Carbon Calculator useful:  
Carbon reduction can be achieved through   Avoidance , e.g. zero carbon fuel or reducing travel, Shifting, e.g. offering low carbon alternative modes and changing behaviour, Improving, e.g. by enhancing the efficiency of energy consumption.

Which of these apply to your project? Could you push for more?
Saving some carbon is very different to understanding what contribution a project makes to the overall scale of carbon reduction and how fast (the rate of emission reductions).   For example, a 2023 study reveals that UK national transport emission control plans require an additional 20% reduction in road traffic levels  to meet the UK’s goal of net-zero by 2050    The 2023 Cumbria Carbon Budget (Fig 1) illustrates how this can translate into a steep local curve of emission reductions required from transport along with other sectors.
Figure 1: With permission from Zero Carbon Cumbria. Source:
Against this backdrop it is important to consider: How much of a contribution does the project at hand make to carbon emission reduction? Could it do more? What is the rate or timescale of reductions? Every delay will steepen the already steep curve. If transport falls short, could other sectors make up the difference?How can/do you know what a realistic or potential scale and rate of decarbonisation for your project might be? What would have to happen to realise its full potential? Are you in control of that or does it rely on others?
How much carbon is saved is related to the types of users of an innovation as some people’s mobility lifestyles have more potential to decarbonise than others. For example, the place-based carbon calculator shows how more affluent and rural areas in the UK have higher carbon emissions, while poorer and urban areas already have lower emissions (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Place-based Carbon Calculator Source: (Morgan et al 2021)
Does the project consider target user groups with a decarbonisation potential perspective, and if so, are there efforts to design or modify the project to maximise carbon reduction by user group targeting? How?

Social Justice

According to the IPCC (2022), ‘neglecting issues of justice risks a backlash against climate action …, and it will also have implications for the pace, scale and quality of the transition’, especially ‘from those who stand to lose from such actions’ (p. 17-61). There is ample evidence of this and it requires attention. Social justice is best addressed by engaging those who stand to lose in dialogue, by learning from them and creatively addressing the challenges together. 

There are many methods for identifying people and organisations who may win or lose from a project and their concerns. These might include stakeholder mapping, value mapping, participatory design or co-design.
How does the project team work out who should have a say in the design process?
Who are the imagined users of the innovation? Who is excluded? 
Who is actually actively involved in the project or design process?
Note that these aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive
List specific examples
Existing or near user groups 
Possible next user groups 
More difficult-to-reach groups 
Local authorities 
Community representatives 
Youth representatives 
Activist groups 
Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic groups 
Other (please list) 
  How do are stakeholders involved? (tick any that apply) What more could be done?
Information + Feedback 
Joint planning 
Stakeholder-led development 
Has the ‘useability’ of the innovation been considered? For example, relevance to specific places, specific groups, specific situations? Who does this exclude? 
Has the affordability of the innovation been discussed? 
How has accessibility been considered, for example, access to public services, in-frastructure? In relation to disabilities and other vectors of difference? 
  Whilst we are often focussed on seeking agreement, a key part of decarbonising is dissent – people have different circumstances, values, interests, and views. Efforts to reconcile these through dialogue can be extremely generative and improve the project.
How does the project invite and enable dissent to be articulated?
Are there methods to platform less powerful stakeholders? For example, in an environment with many adult experts, young people may struggle to speak. What is the project doing to create an atmosphere where everyone can speak, be listened to, heard, and treated with respect? 
Just transition is not just about attending to the needs and interests of the disadvantaged.  Affluent groups may actually stand to lose significantly from climate action.   How does the project enable respectful consideration of impacts on stakeholders in potentially vastly different socio-economic circumstances? 
Is the supply chain transparent? Is the supply chain ethical? 
Is the role of local and/or national government considered in the innovation? If so, how? What role might policy play in developing the innovation’s societal readi-ness? 
Is nature considered as a stakeholder? 
Which groups and communities are represented amongst participants? How have citizens and other stakeholders been involved in the project, or how will they be involved? 
Does the project engage with issues of diversity, including gender, age, equity, income, education, sexuality, disability, class, ethnicity and other aspects of inequality? 
Are the existing mobility cultures in specific places part of the discussion of transformation? 
Are the end uses that generate travel demand (and their weighting in specific places e.g., tourism, commuting) discussed in the porject? 

Social Impact

Different projects have different purposes and priorities. Have a go at labelling the following as “high”, “medium” and “low” regarding priorities now. Could the distribution of priorities change to improve the societal readiness of the project?NowPotential
Financial viability  
Benefit to the target communities  
Benefit to excluded or marginalised people  
Collection of data  
Carbon reduction  
Other environmental improvements (air quality, quality of place etc)  
Green jobs  
Creating attractor for investment / green finance  
Demonstration of what is possible (elaborate)  
Other (describe)  
  If you anticipate changes in priorities, why do you think that might happen? What might get in the way?  
How does the project contribute to the public good? 
Are unanticipated consequences for society considered? (e.g., a fully digitised on-demand transport solution may be highly practical and fit for appropriation, but it may introduce societally unacceptable levels of surveillance). 
Have people had the opportunity to try out the project’s components in their everyday lives? 
Have multiple iterations of the design been undertaken? If so, with whom? In situ or in a ‘test’ environment? 
There are ways of monitoring and addressing unanticipated consequences, including scenario-building, back-casting, or formative evaluation. What methods does the project employ to identify and address unanticipated consequences? 
How comfortable are you that the project team are as aware of the full range of consequences of the project as they can be? 
Does the project have a monitoring plan that will capture and lead to action on unanticipated consequences? 
Does the project have mitigation measures in place to deal with them? What do/might these look like? 

Fit for a Decarbonised Future

Climate action needs to reach beyond political cycles, anticipate or shape, and support systemic change to be effective. How projects feature in this process will affect their long-term success.

To what extent does the project consider the national, regional or local policy agendas? This could be Closely related policies, such as transport and active travel policy, systemically linked policies, such as land-use, or indirectly related ones such a health, social or economic policies. 
To what extent is the thinking for the project rooted in respected research, for instance about how to reduce carbon, or how to influence how people travel? 
What plans and processes are in place to future-proof the project? 
How are future generations considered?
Are you confident that the project will align with target groups’ needs, values and interests to deliver of the identified desirable outcomes? What are you planning to do to give you confidence that this will happen? 
To what extent is the project designed to tackle a recognised problem or (social) opportunity, or is it more designed speculatively to attract new users? 
How broad are the user groups for the project? Will its implementation lead to exclusion and if so, do you intend to develop mitigation measures to manage this? 
How far up (and down) the supply chain does the project look to identify its impacts? Are you comfortable that what might lead to benefits in the target area(s) won’t lead to problems elsewhere? 
What provisions are there to make travel resilient in the face of the consequences of climate change (e.g. heatwaves, disruption through extreme weather)? 

Next Steps

Stakeholder mapping would be a useful next step after this deep dive. If you have already done stakeholder mapping, try the Value Mapping Tool and the Travelling Tales activity.


There is a huge body of literature on these aspects. Here are some sources that have inspired us:

Breuer, Henning, and Florian Lüdeke-Freund. Values-Based Innovation Management: Innovating by What We Care About. 1st ed. 2017 edition. London: Red Globe Press, 2016.

IPCC. ‘Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’. Cambridge UK and New York, NY, USA: IPCC, 2022.

Morgan, Malcolm, Anable, Jillian, & Lucas, Karen. (2021). A place-based carbon calculator for England. Presented at the 29th Annual GIS Research UK Conference (GISRUK), Cardiff, Wales, UK (Online): Zenodo.

Pangbourne, Kate, Miloš N. Mladenović, Dominic Stead, and Dimitris Milakis. ‘Questioning Mobility as a Service: Unanticipated Implications for Society and Governance’. Transportation Research. Part A, Policy and Practice 131 (2020): 35–49.

Patterson, James J., Thomas Thaler, Matthew Hoffmann, Sara Hughes, Angela Oels, Eric Chu, Aysem Mert, Dave Huitema, Sarah Burch, and Andy Jordan. ‘Political Feasibility of 1.5°C Societal Transformations: The Role of Social Justice’. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 31 (2018): 1–9.