IESVic Seminar - Beyond decarbonization: The democratic qualities of decentralized energy ownership

Dr. Bregje van Veelan

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Thursday, May 12
1:00-2:00 pm (PDT)
Hybrid Event
In-person (ECS 660)
Online (Zoom details below)


At a time where many feel that existing political structures and institutions are insufficient for governing the complexities of modern-day life, there has been a proliferation of civic demands for new forms of democracy, rooted in material infrastructures such as energy, food and water. These calls have coincided with significant changes to these infrastructures. Renewable forms of energy in particular have the potential to both decarbonize and decentralize energy infrastructures and their ownership. However, while activists and progressive politicians use the language of democracy to advocate for a system that is both low-carbon and democratically controlled, there remains a lack of clarity around what a democratic energy system is or does. This seminar will explore some of the implications of these new conceptualizations of democracy. Based on qualitative fieldwork with energy cooperatives and other civic energy groups, I explore the inherent tensions within these processes, and the fragile, contingent and contested outcomes that emerge. I conclude by discussing whether the diversity of these emergent infrastructures challenge or strengthen the democratic claims made for them.

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Dr. Bregje van Veelen is a social researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University (Sweden). Her work focuses on the governance of low carbon transitions. She investigates this theme through three strands of research: the role of new actors (from community groups to institutional investors) in shaping low carbon transitions; the potential for low carbon transitions to take place in ways that are democratic and just; and the place-based impacts of the phase out of high carbon industries. She currently leads two research projects: 'Post-carbon: Imagining the future to unmake the present', and ‘Changing Places of Work’, and more information about these projects can be found here. She has previously worked as a Research Associate in the Department of Geography at Durham University, and a PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh.


**Zoom meeting link**

Meeting ID: 876 8425 4998
Password: 759485
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