Telecoupling as a framework to support a more nuanced understanding of causality in land system science

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  • Louise Marie Busck-Lumholt
  • Johanna Coenen
  • Joel Persson
  • Anna Frohn Pedersen
  • Ole Mertz
  • Esteve Corbera
This article illustrates the potential of the telecoupling framework to improve causal attribution in land system science (LSS). We shed light on the distinct analytical approaches that have characterized telecoupling research to date, how these can contribute to LSS with new insights, and whether such insights can improve causal attribution. By reviewing 45 empirical telecoupling studies, we firstly demonstrate how telecoupling is applied in a broad variety of ways within LSS and across different disciplines and research topics, albeit with qualitative data and assessments being underrepresented. Secondly, we show that telecoupling is clearer in its contribution to causal attribution when applied explicitly in framework integration or empirical application, rather than when it is included more indirectly as a narrative. Finally, we argue that telecoupling can complement existing LSS theory with a flexible and holistic approach to dealing with the uncertainties and complexities related to attributing causality in a globalized world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Land Use Science
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)386-406
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 02.01.2022

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 765408 (COUPLED). This work also contributes to the “Maria de Maeztu” Programme for Units of Excellence of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (CEX2019-000940-M). We would like to thank our colleagues in COUPLED who have all contributed with insightful approaches to the operationalization of telecoupling through their research and thus been a great motivation to the development of this review article. Finally, a big thanks to Dr. Patrick Meyfroidt who dedicated his time to provide valuable feedback on the early scoping of this article and whose work on the topic of causality in land use science has been highly inspirational to our analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.