Towards a Political Ecology of EU Energy Policy

6 de fevereiro de 2018, 10h00

Sala 1, CES | Alta


At the root of energy policy are fundamental questions about the sort of social and environmental futures in which people want to live, and how decisions over different energy pathways and energy futures are made. Conventional research on energy policy, however, is ill-equipped to address its fundamentally socio-political character, as questions are framed by reference to disciplinary traditions (economics, engineering, natural sciences) rather than the structure of the problem or conflict at hand. The interdisciplinary field of political ecology has the capacity to ask different questions about energy policy because of its close attention to the distribution and effects of social power and commitment to in-depth, place-based direct observation: For whom is energy being secured? Whose voices are heard in decisions about ‘clean’ energy infrastructure? What vulnerabilities are created in the move towards liberalised and competitive energy markets? And to what political/geopolitical relations and subjectivities (e.g. consumer, prosumer, citizen, activist) does energy policy give rise? A political ecology of energy systems and environmental change involves not just ‘adding on’ social science to technical questions about resource efficiency or the design of distribution systems: it requires upstream consideration of how problems are framed, and participatory approaches that seek to co-produce knowledge with a range of stakeholders. Political ecology, then, poses a challenge to how energy policy conventionally gets done.

This workshop brings together scholars from four Universities (Durham, KTH Stockholm, Boğaziçi, and CES/Coimbra) working together on a Think Piece for the EU Horizon 2020 funded platform: Social sciences and Humanities for Advancing Policy in European ENERGY (SHAPE ENERGY). The contributors will offer insights from three strands of work in political ecology that underline the socio-political character of energy systems to address core issues at the heart of European energy policy: on the spatial transformations associated with efforts to decarbonise energy systems and secure energy supply; on environmental histories and the politics of past energy transitions; and on environmental justice and social conflicts at the ‘sharp end’ of energy policy implementation. The workshop is intended to discuss how these three different strands of work can be made to fruitfully interact towards the formulation of policy-oriented scholarship.