Decision Making Strategies and Tools

Researchers: Tim McDaniels, University of British Columbia

At, you will find information and web tools outlining good processes for tough decisions about climate adaptation concepts. The funding for the creation of this page came from the Climate Decision Making Center

More information coming soon.

A Decision-Support Tool to Elicit Public Preferences for Electricity Portfolios with CCS and Other Low-Carbon Technologies

Researchers: Lauren A. Fleishman; Wändi Bruine de Bruin; and M. Granger Morgan

For low-carbon electricity generating technologies to play a significant role in the reduction of atmospheric CO2 emissions, the public must accept their wide-spread deployment.  In a recently completed study, we asked members of the general public to rank ten technologies (e.g., wind, nuclear, coal with CCS, natural gas), and seven realistic low-carbon portfolios composed of these technologies.  Participants received comprehensive and carefully balanced paper-based materials that systematically explained the costs and benefits of each (for examples, see Figures 1 and 2).  These materials were developed with input from domain experts to ensure correct information, and pilot-tested with members of the general public to ensure understanding.  Participants ranked the technologies and the portfolios, alone and as part of a group discussion. Our findings suggest that the format of our information materials and the procedure followed by participants may work well to educate the general public about the challenges of attaining a low-carbon energy future and, to elicit decision-relevant, informed public perceptions and preferences. 

We are currently using the results of this paper-based study to inform the development of a computer decision-support tool. The interactive decision tool will allow lay users to create their own feasible low-carbon portfolios. In contrast to our recently completed study, which asks participants to rank seven discrete predetermined portfolios, the computer tool will allow users to choose the technologies (and their percentage penetration) included in the portfolio. As the user increases or decreases the technology percentages, the interactive tool will provide immediate output on the cost, emissions and other important environmental and electricity-specific attributes of their designed portfolio.

The development and implementation of this interactive computer tool should prove valuable in supporting the development of effective web-based communication materials to promote public understanding of the potential benefits and limitations of CCS and other low-carbon technologies. The results of this study should also provide helpful information to energy policy decision-makers and stakeholders about relevant public preferences and opinions of CCS and other low-carbon technologies.

Figure 1 (pdf)

Figure 2 (pdf)


Climate Decision Making Center 2009