This perspective piece sets out to contribute to the academic and practitioner debates around energy transitions and democracy initiatives in the age of a climate crisis. For tackling present-day energy challenges in a democratic, equitable and just manner, critical social science and humanities research on meaning and materialities, new actors and narratives, values and democracy is indispensable. In doing so, we centralize our work around three fundamental axes: The Concept, reflecting on the energy itself and revitalizing its essence; The Political, embracing the value laden, political and gendered nature of energy, and recognizing citizens' initiatives as counter currents to centralized energy decision-making; and The People, anticipating the far right's post-truth narratives that jeopardize planetary futures. We contend that "normative, political and embodied" research and praxis can serve for diversifying the energy transition debate as well as energizing bottom-up community led initiatives in order to democratize the energy playing field of recent times.
This perspective piece sets to contribute to the academic and practitioner debates around energy democracy in the age of climate crisis. In tackling the present-day energy transition challenges in a democratic, equitable, just and sustainable manner, we argue that sound research shall take alternative currents to centralized access to and control of energy decision making at its core as well as exploring new and novel ways to deal with production and distribution issues. Critical research on new actors, materialities, values, worldviews, democracy, and justice on energy is well-situated to meet these challenges. Navigating value systems, exploring enabling or disabling material qualities, focusing on ruptures, continuities, and emerging new geographies all carry a promise in critical energy research. We contend that 'normative, political and embodied' research strategies must be used to defeat the far right's the particularly mischievous approach to planetary futures. ; Peer Reviewed ; Postprint (published version)
Quantitative systems modelling in support of climate policy has tended to focus more on the supply side in assessing interactions among technology, economy, environment, policy and society. By contrast, the demand side is usually underrepresented, often emphasising technological options for energy efficiency improvements. In this perspective, we argue that scientific support to climate action is not only about exploring capacity of "what", in terms of policy and outcome, but also about assessing feasibility and desirability, in terms of "when", "where" and especially for "whom". Without the necessary behavioural and societal transformations, the world faces an inadequate response to the climate crisis challenge. This could result from poor uptake of low-carbon technologies, continued high-carbon intensive lifestyles, or economy-wide rebound effects. For this reason, we propose a framing for a holistic and transdisciplinary perspective on the role of human choices and behaviours in influencing the low-carbon transition, starting from the desires of individuals and communities, and analysing how these interact with the energy and economic landscape, leading to systemic change at the macro-level. In making a case for a political ecology agenda, we expand our scope, from comprehending the role of societal acceptance and uptake of end-use technologies, to co-developing knowledge with citizens from non-mainstream and marginalised communities, and to defining the modelling requirements to assess the decarbonisation potential of shifting lifestyle patterns in climate change and action. ; ISSN:2214-6296