Dr Nils Markusson


Research Overview


The core of my interest is about the politics of environmental technology. I want to understand the relationship between how we develop and use technology in response to environmental problems on one hand, and political processes at varying scales in society on the other.

I am a social scientist, with a background in engineering, innovation policy, innovation studies and science & technology studies (STS), and most recently cultural political economy. Much of my work is done in multi- and interdisciplinary collaborations, spanning social science, natural science, engineering and the humanities. I am a qualitative researcher, and favoured data sources include documents and interviews.

Published research

I have published on cleaner technology innovations in process industries and the organisational dynamics behind them, analysed through the theoretical lenses of the ‘company social constitution’, ‘environmental championing’ and ‘reification’/’black boxing’.

I have also built up a substantial body of work on carbon dioxide capture and storage technology (CCS), seeking to expand this strand of research beyond public perception related studies. Specific pieces of work has included analysing ‘lock-in‘ dynamics in relation to capture ready designs as well as biomass CCS, relating demonstration of CCS technology to notions including ‘social learning’, and explorations of CCS technology development to different ways of conceptualising and representing ‘learning’. I used historical technological analogues to explore uncertainties relating to CCS in a project funded by UK Energy Research Centre. I led a book project, resulting in an edited volume published by Routledge.

Over the last few years, I have been working on climate geoengineering, including a study of how geoengineering has been justified with reference to expected climate emergency, and a paper on how the dominating definition and classification of climate engineering can be challenged, opened up and re-politicized by studying how the technology is presented on Wikipedia. See related blog posts here and here.

Current research

My current work applies cultural political economy to CCS and climate engineering. A recent paper has re-theorised the notion of ‘technical fixes’ based on a study of the co-evolution of climate engineering promises with the neoliberal political regime.

The NERC-funded project 'Assessing mitigation deterrence effects of greenhouse gas removal technologies' looks into the risks of such GGRs delaying or reducing mitigation efforts. See related blog post here.


I teach on modules across the second and third years of our undergraduate geography courses:

  • Environmental conflicts in the second year
  • Sociotechnical urban change in a third year module
  • Urban inequality, for a field trip to New York in the third year.

I also contribute to a postgrad geography module:

  • Climate Change and Society

Technological optimism in climate mitigation: the case of carbon capture and storage
Stephens, J., Markusson, N.O. 27/09/2018 In: Oxford Handbook on Energy and Society. Oxford : Oxford University Press ISBN: 9780190633851.

Policy instruments to control Amazon fires: a simulation approach
Morello, T.F., Parry, L., Markusson, N., Barlow, J. 08/2017 In: Ecological Economics. 138, p. 199-222. 24 p.
Journal article

The political economy of technical fixes: the (mis)alignment of clean fossil and political regimes
Markusson, N.O., Gjefsen, M.D., Stephens, J., Tyfield, D.P. 01/2017 In: Energy Research and Social Science. 23, p. 1-10. 10 p.
Journal article

Contrasting medium and genre on Wikipedia to open up the dominating definition and classification of geoengineering
Markusson, N.O., Venturini, T., Laniado, D., Kaltenbrunner, A. 2/09/2016 In: Big Data and Society. 3, 2, p. 1-17. 17 p.
Journal article

‘In case of emergency press here’: framing geoengineering as a response to dangerous climate change
Markusson, N., Ginn, F., Ghaleigh, N., Scott, V. 02/2014 In: Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. 5, 2, p. 281-290. 10 p.
Journal article

Learning pathways for energy supply technologies: bridging between innovation studies and learning rates
Winskel, M., Markusson, N., Jeffrey, H., Candelise, C., Dutton, G., Howarth, P., Jablonski, S., Kalyvas, C., Ward, D. 01/2014 In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 81, p. 96–114.
Journal article

Resolving or managing uncertainties for carbon capture and storage: lessons from historical analogues
Watson, J., Kern, F., Markusson, N. 01/2014 In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 81, p. 192–204.
Journal article

Review of 'A case for climate engineering' by David Keith
Markusson, N. 2014 In: Climate Law. 4, 3-4, 4 p.
Book/Film/Article review

Characterising CCS learning: the role of quantitative methods and alternative approaches
Markusson, N., Chalmers, H. 09/2013 In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 80, 7, p. 1409-1417.
Journal article

Last chance for carbon capture and storage
Scott, V., Gilfillan, S., Markusson, N., Chalmers, H., Haszeldine, S. 2013 In: Nature Climate Change. 3, 2, p. 105-111. 7 p.
Journal article

What will CCS demonstrations demonstrate?
Russell, S., Markusson, N., Scott, V. 08/2012 In: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. 17, 6, p. 651-668. 18 p.
Journal article

A socio-technical framework for assessing the viability of carbon capture and storage technology
Markusson, N., Kern, F., Watson, J., Arapostathis, S., Chalmers, H., Ghaleigh, N., Heptonstall, P., Pearson, P., Rossati, D., Russell, S. 06/2012 In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 79, 5, p. 903-918. 16 p.
Journal article

Born again: the debate on lock-in and CCS
Markusson, N. 05/2012 In: Energy and Environment. 23, 2-3, p. 389-394. 6 p.
Journal article

The social dynamics of carbon capture and storage: understanding CCS representations, governance and innovation
Markusson, N., Shackley, S., Evar, B. 2012 Abingdon : Earthscan. 318 p. ISBN: 978-1849713153.

CCS, BECCS and the escape from carbon lock-in
Vergragt, P., Markusson, N., Karlsson, H. 05/2011 In: Global Environmental Change. 21, 2, p. 282-292. 11 p.
Journal article

The social and political complexities of learning in carbon capture and storage demonstration projects
Markusson, N., Ishii, A., Stephens, J. 05/2011 In: Global Environmental Change. 21, 2, p. 293-302. 10 p.
Journal article

Unpacking the black box of cleaner innovation
Markusson, N. 03/2011 In: Journal of Cleaner Production. 19, 4, p. 294-302. 9 p.
Journal article

'Capture ready' regulation of fossil fuel power plants: betting the UK's carbon emissions on promises of future technology
Markusson, N., Haszeldine, S. 11/2010 In: Energy Policy. 38, 11, p. 6695-6702. 8 p.
Journal article

The championing of environmental improvements in technology investment projects
Markusson, N. 05/2010 In: Journal of Cleaner Production. 18, 8, p. 777-783. 7 p.
Journal article

The organisation of cleaner innovation: integrating environmental concerns into process technology investment projects
Markusson, N. 2009 Saarbrücken : VDM Verlag. ISBN: 978-3639192568.