Environmental education technologies in a social void: the case of ‘Greendrive’


This article is based on a case study that follows the trajectory of a technological device aimed at environmental education from the engineering laboratory in which it was designed into the contexts in which it is used. ‘Greendrive’ is a driving simulator that accurately reproduces the performance of a vehicle in terms of fuel consumption and greenhouse gases emissions, in order to instill the principles of safe and environmentally friendly driving. The text is divided into three parts. The first part introduces the issue of transport behavior as one of the causes of climate change and the role of eco-driving in reducing emissions. The second part describes how a team of Portuguese engineering researchers developed the driving simulator and how a local authority and a consulting and training company are using it. Finally, the discussion part aims to show that despite the intentions of its creators and their clients, the driving simulator is unlikely, by itself, to generate changes in behavior. An information-deficit approach to environmental education that fails to consider the social embeddedness of human action and disregards the engagement of citizens has a very limited chance of success.

Publication associated with Project Alterações Climáticas: Desafios para a Ciência e a Sociedade.