- Simone Abram, Laura Marsiliani, Chima Michael Anyadike Danes, Jingyuan Di.
- Joost Alleblas
- Matt Barlow
- Lauren Lee Barrett
- Christian Barry
- Hans Bauman
- Ainur Begim & Taylor Spears
- Giulia Bellinetti
- Matthieu Bolay
- Gavin Bridge, Alexander Dodge, Tiago Teixeira
- Marc Andrew Brightman
- John Broome
- Bart de Bruin, Anna Melnyk, Amineh Ghorbani, Thomas Hoppe, Ibo van de Poe
- Krister Bykvist
- Julian Caldecott
- Filipe Calvão & Matthew Archer
- Emiliano Castillo
- Sophie-Grace Chappell
- Owen Clifton
- Lydia Cole
- Elizabeth Cripps
- Emma Curran
- Kari Dahlgren
- Georgina Drew
- Alex Douglas
- Eike Düvel
- Gabe Eckhouse
- Ian Edwards &Tim MacDonald
- Ben Eyre
- Fahima Al Farabi
- Sean Field
- Felix FitzRoy
- Adam Fleischmann
- Valeska Flor
- Giovanni Frigo & Roman Meinhold
- Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh
- Steve Gardiner
- Michelle Geraerts
- Ewan Gibbs
- Ben Hall
- Tobias Haller
- Anna-Sophie Hobi
- Aster Hoving
- Philipp Jacobi
- Ewan Jenkins
- Ewan Jenkins, Cornelia Helmcke, Lydia Cole
- Gustav Kalm
- Callum Kellie
- Eeva Kesküla, Arina Aleksejeva
- Isla Munro Kinnear
- Christine Knott & Leah Fusco
- Sarah Knuth & Zac Taylor
- Joohee Lee
- Johannes Lenhard
- Meng-rung Lin, Hsin-Yu Lu, Ru-Yi Liu
- Aleksandra Lis-Plesińska
- Aleksandra Lis-Plesińska, Rafał Szymanowski, Marek Jaskólski
- Asprey Liu
- Kalila MacKenzie
- Nadezhda Mamontova
- Laura Marsiliani, Lucy Naga, Thomas Renström, Luca Spataro
- Anna Melnyk
- Anna Melnyk, Hanne Cox, Amineh Ghorban, Thomas Hoppe
- Hannah Mottram
- Knut Christian Myhre, Douglas R. Holmes
- Timothy Neale, Kari Dahlgren, Matthew Kearnes and Kirsty Howey
- Quan Nguyen
- Colin Nolden, A Monier, T Mose
- Sarah O'Brien
- Horacio Ortiz
- William Otchere-Darko & Gisa Weszkalnys
- Paule Pastré
- Kelly Rebecca Prime
- Margarita S. Rayzberg
- Yiamar Rivera-Matos
- Pablo Ampuero Ruiz
- Serena Saligari
- Lorenzo Sapochetti
- Basak Sarac-Lesavre
- Anna Seeger
- Camille-Mary Sharp
- Rajdev Sheokand, Navreet Kaur
- Riyoko Shibe
- Carolin Slickers
- Jessica Smith
- Sandy Smith-Nonini
- Luca Stroppa
- Inna Sukhenko
- Matthias Täger, Richard Perkins
- Belicia Teo
- Kristian Høyer Toft
- Aneil Tripathy
- Nynke van Uffelen
- Nynke van Uffelen, Daniel Wuebben, Giovanni Frigo, Roman Meinhold, Lorenzo Simone
- Theodora Vetta
- Johanes Narasetu Widyatmanto
- Caura Wood
- Daniel Wuebben
- Lina Xie, Bert Scholtens, Swarnodeep Homroy
- Paloma Yáñez Serrano and Benjamin Llorens Rocamora
- Chelsie Yount-André
Simone Abram, Laura Marsiliani, Chima Michael Anyadike Danes, Jingyuan Di.
Co-financing future heat?
As the UK endures an escalation of energy costs that is creating fear, misery and poverty, the prospects of accessing low-cost so-called ‘low-grade’ heat from abandoned mine-workings is high on the research agenda. Current work across disciplines attempts to establish the technical details of abstracting and reinserting minewater from underground workings, and the amount of heat that will potentially become available. Geoscientists and engineers are focused on the hopeful promise that minewater heat evokes. They articulate visions for what they regard as more moral futures signified by cleaner, cheaper heat accessible to the residents of former colliery communities. However, the main difficulties in realising such futures seem to lie in the absence of regulatory and financial processes, and frameworks of property development that would be needed for the heat to reach those who most need it. In this moment, where regulation, ownership and costs are unclear, there is considerable potential for alternatives that the researchers deem ethical, but this window will soon start to close around particular solutions that could translate heat into a standard resource for what researchers deem immoral exploitation. We consider the possibilities for non-financialised or non-capitalised circulations of energy in the UK context, in the light of narratives that attempt to capture heat as a financial resource rather than a common good.
Material Ideals in Energy Transitions
In visions of ideal societies, technologies are often perceived as means to fulfil preconceived ends. I argue that technology is not just a means, but itself a source of ideals. The neglect of technology as moral force is a blind spot in theorizing about good societies. I argue that political visions can also start with technologies, perceived as ends in themselves. The manner in which ideals function in such technical visions is, therefore, different. Energy visions, for instance, can be technology-based or principle-based. However, even if energy visions are principle-based, the choice for certain technologies, in a later stage of planning, might very well affect the principles formulated in the first stage. We have to ask whether principle-based visions sufficiently address technology as a moral, epistemological, and ontological force. I will elaborate one these questions with three short case studies, exploring the different functions of ideals in the development of energy systems.
Legacy waste: the past, present, and future of plastics and energy
The UN recently passed a treaty to end plastic pollution and forge an internationally legally binding agreement by 2024. However, many advanced technological solutions to plastic waste actually encourage plastics production. One such proposition is to transform plastics into fuel through a process known as waste-to-energy (WTE). Drawing on ethnographic research in Kochi, India, I argue that WTE, disguised as renewable energy projects, are an investment in the future of disposable plastics. As such, there is an urgent need to find appropriate and regionally specific ways of processing plastics out of environments while divesting from the fossil fuel industry.
Lauren Lee Barrett
Benefitting Who? The Shifting Conceptions of “Human-Centered” Beneficial Electrification in Colorado
This paper, grounded in ethnographic research with the state of Colorado’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), examines the state’s expanding efforts to invest in Colorado communities identified as disproportionately impacted (DI) by climate change through beneficial electrification. Federal and state funds require state employees to identify and prioritize DI communities to shape WAP initiatives, yet there have been considerable challenges after community engagement efforts produced insights that contradicted technocratic narratives about the quickest and most “effective” ways to decarbonize. What lessons can be learned through the questions and contestations that emerged in WAP’s early beneficial electrification projects that seek to unsettle assumptions about whose needs, timelines, and physical wellbeing should be at the center of government funded decarbonization strategies?
Net Zero Accounting
Net zero has recently emerged as a new norm, one in which different actors (including but not limited to countries) pledge to achieve a form of greenhouse gas neutrality—ensuring that they add no more carbon into the atmosphere than they take out— by a certain date. In this paper, we examine criteria, both existing and proposed, that might be used to determine which emissions should be regarded as belonging to different countries for the purposes of net zero accounting. We argue that all of them are inadequate and defend an alternative proposal—value-chain emissions accounting.
Lithospheric Transference (Norge)
Cars parked on the remains of a Bronze Age ceremonial site, a Texan geologist builds the largest homemade telescope in Scandinavia, and a deep-sea diver recalls his experiences of the Moon. Shot over a one-month period in August 2022, “Lithospheric Transference (Norge)” documents the uncanny array of technologies, institutions and histories that are endemic to Norwegian fossil capitalism. The film emphasizes the relationship between visualization and extraction, showing how hyper-resolution giga-pixel scans of fossilized Jurassic carbon, technical simulators at vocational schools and experimental marine construction technologies manifest themselves as perpetual revisions to an unending present.
Ainur Begim & Taylor Spears
Enfolding the Non-Financial into Financial Infrastructures: ESG and the Infrastructures of the Global Derivatives Markets
This paper examines the evolution of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and specific infrastructures into which they are being embedded. We argue that the widespread adoption of ESG in mainstream finance is in fact predicated on the way the ESG concept and practices have been developed to ‘fit’ the material and ideational infrastructures of finance. On the other hand, successful financial infrastructures are increasingly those that are flexible enough to incorporate non-financial criteria while remaining legitimate to their users. We build this argument by examining a risk-neutral valuation theory for derivatives pricing into which ESG is now being enfolded.
More-than-capitalist futures: re-framing finance through the lens of diversity
In times of converging crisis, reframing financial practices through the lens of diversity is an urgent call that can lead to more ethical energy futures. Drawing from literature on diverse economies, ecological thinking, and socially-engaged art, the contribution examines notions of value, ownership, responsibility, investment, and equity, as defined and practiced in the context of non-capitalist economies. Stressing the proximity between economic and ecological thinking, it also discusses examples of how value can circulate between different economic systems, promoting energy solidarity and resilience.
The legal business of consistent inconsistency: environmental sovereignty and theimpossible reform of international investment law in Tanzania
In 2017, Tanzania reformed the legal framework which regulates foreign investment in natural resources. The three acts (i.e., so-called Contract review act, Permanent sovereignty act, and PublicPrivate Partnership act) questioned Tanzania’s participation in the international investment treaty regime, which allows for investor-state dispute settlement in private arbitration tribunals. Through the acts, the Tanzanian government sought to renegotiate contracts’ “unconscionable terms”, such as restricting the right of the State to regulate or undermining measures to protect the environment, and to prohibit investment disputes to be settled in foreign jurisdictions and private fora. While disputes over investments in extractive projects of so-called critical minerals were subsequently launched, a new arbitration law which re-opens the door to the ISDS system was also adopted. This paper investigates how such ambiguous framework – with competing laws simultaneously prohibiting and allowing international arbitration – and its resulting legal uncertainty are perceived both by actors of the arbitration field and by environment related civil society organisations in Tanzania. While civil society organisations tend to reclaim greater legal consistency, including through the maintenance of ISDS provisions considered by many as a necessary evil, arbitration actors seem to accommodate well to its intended ban. They seem to perceive the assumed “legal inconsistency” of the Tanzanian investment framework, including its arbitration act, as overall favourable to private dispute settlement mechanisms, whose business is significantly growing in east Africa.
Gavin Bridge, Alexander Dodge, Tiago Teixeira
Extracting value from the bottom of the barrel: exploring the value proposition for investment in oil and gas in the North Sea’s twilight years
Since oil and gas production peaked over twenty years ago, many of the publicly-listed companies historically associated with developing the North Sea have divested significant assets. Divestments and departures from this mature basin have opened the door for a diverse set of newer firms, including companies backed by private equity and sovereign wealth funds. In this paper we explore why UK oil and gas continues to attract flows of finance. We foreground the ‘value proposition’ of the North Sea for the diverse set of firms that make up the UK’s oil and gas sector, allowing us to consider the relationship between present and future in relation to investment, and explain differences in approach and expectations about financial return. The paper is based on interviews with oil and gas firms active on the UK continental shelf, secondary data, and participation in industry events.
Marc Andrew Brightman
Speculative hydrogen futures and ambitions for green recovery in the eastern Adriatic
The industrial landscape of the port of Ravenna, emblematic of Italy’s postwar industrial recovery, is now the scene for new fantasies of energy-driven economic recovery. Two hydrogen projects lobbied the government for a share of Italy’s allocation from the EU pandemic recovery fund: ENI, the Italian oil major, proposed an ambitious programme of blue hydrogen production, using methane from existing reserves, with emissions to be abated by carbon capture and storage, and Agnes, a consortium developing offshore wind and solar power infrastructure, aims to use it to produce ‘green’ hydrogen. In the midst of debates over the inclusion of gas in the EU’s green ‘taxonomy’, only Agnes’s project was approved. Meanwhile, an intellectual ferment is growing up around technological visions of hydrogen futures, with Ravenna as a protagonist. H2020 funding supports Hydrogen Europe, a network for promotion and dissemination of hydrogen knowledge. One newly funded research project aims to develop a decentralized, carbon-negative industrial process for the conversion of biomass into hydrogen and other fuels. Placing these activities in their ecological setting of the Po delta at the edge of Italy’s agricultural heartland, I offer a reflection on the visions of the future that they embody.
Philosophy, Economics and Harnessing Self-Interest
If moral philosophy is to contribute to controlling climate change, it must apply itself to the morality of governments. Here it will come into contact with economics. Philosophy can contribute a theory of value, which economics has the tools to implement in practice. An essential means of limiting carbon emissions is to set a price on them that is equal in value to the harm they cause. However, powerful interests are opposed to carbon pricing, and many countries do not yet have it. These interests can be overcome by implementing carbon pricing in a way that is not against the interests of anyone.
Bart de Bruin, Anna Melnyk, Amineh Ghorbani, Thomas Hoppe, Ibo van de Poe
From perception to action: Understanding energy community participation with perception thermometers
In the European Union, community energy empowers citizens to change the energy landscape and play a prominent role in achieving the policy goal of sustainable energy transitions. For citizens, the decision to participate in these community energy initiatives involves a complex and adaptive process in which a variety of individual (e.g. values, beliefs, norms) and contextual factors (e.g. prices, institutions) are influential. The heterogeneous and adaptive characteristics of individual factors, combined with dynamics in contextual factors and policy interventions, trouble the understanding of people’s participation in community energy. Therefore, this paper proposes to explore the notion of perception thermometers, that operate as buffers between external pressures and the individual factors of individuals and groups. With the application of perception thermometers, this research shows how individual and contextual factors can lead to tipping points in which people collectively decide to adjust towards more sustainable energy behaviour.
Coordination problems in climate ethics – Do we need to reach beyond individual duties to solve them?
Abstract: The question of my talk is whether ‘the ethics of climate change is more complicated than it is’, to cite John Broome (‘Against denialism’, (2019), The Monist 102: 129). More specifically, should we reach beyond individual duties to properly address climate change, and invoke collective notions such as group actions, we-reasoning, and collective duties? I shall argue that the case for a collectivist move is not especially strong if we focus on a set of moral coordination problems (so-called Hi-Lo games), some of which can be seen as transformations of climate ethics versions of Prisoners’ Dilemma and Stag Hunt.
Deadline-aware mitigation investment
As Earth system tipping points approach, each tCO2e not emitted has a higher survival value the sooner it is conserved. Making this time premium explicit in investment calculations would help regulators and markets selectively reward projects that conserve carbon quickest and cheapest per tonne. Test calculations show that protecting high carbon-density ecosystems or building national decarbonisation capacity have much higher mitigation utility per unit cost than renewable energy generation or tree-planting investments. They also differ in important co-benefits. Focusing only on financial returns is unjustifiable in a global emergency, and investor education and regulatory guidance are needed to correct this.
Filipe Calvão & Matthew Archer
Flaring the grid: residue economies of crypto energy
This paper explores the infrastructural entanglements of finance and energy by studying the use of ‘leftover’ electricity to power cryptomining. Cryptocurrencies have been in the spotlight for the wasteful and increasingly inefficient use of energy required for solving computational problems. If the lower carbon footprint of ‘proof-of-stake’ consensus mechanisms paved the way for so-called ‘green cryptocurrencies,’ pressure mounts on other energy-thirsty ‘proof-of-work’ cryptocurrencies. This paper examines ongoing attempts to transform the inefficiencies of petrochemical production – specifically gas flaring – into a source of energy for cryptocurrency mining. Since 2021, a “bond” between oil drillers and Bitcoin miners has emerged, with the latter using mobile trailers to set up mining operations at crude oil wells that are too expensive to connect to natural gas pipelines. For some, these mobile mining operations offer a marriage of convenience to improve the sustainability of both the oil and gas industry and cryptomining. For others, they perpetuate a dependency on hydrocarbons. We analyze these developments through the conceptual lens of “green extractivism,” which we bring into conversation with the literature on mining ‘leftovers’ and ‘residues’.
The contested production of tar sands spaces in Canada
This paper outlines the concept of energyscapes to analyze how uneven socio-material spaces for tar sands extraction, distribution, and consumption across and beyond Canada’s boundaries are configured, governed, and contested. This analysis is relevant given that Canada is one of the world’s largest oil producers and carbon polluters per capita. Bringing together energy landscapes and political ecology of oil approaches, this work argues that energyscapes is a useful perspective to explore how tar sands spaces are co-constituted by competing and overlapping discourses, future visions, identities, knowledges, and worldviews. Based on document and critical discourse analysis, this paper specifically examines the role of fossil fuel infrastructures like pipelines in (re)producing unequal spaces characterized by struggles over the appropriation and distribution of the benefits and costs of tar sands operations. In doing so, this research contributes to the growing energy geographies literature on the contentious politics of fossil fuel development in Canada.
Virtue ethics and climate change
Abstract: This paper discusses two possible virtue-ethical approaches to climate change (and similar issues in “emergency ethics”): one takes virtue ethics to be a systematic moral theory of the usual sort, the other takes virtue ethics to be a broader and looser approach to ethics–an ethical outlook. It considers two objections, the timescale objection and the authority objection. To the former of these, either version of virtue ethics seems more vulnerable than other approaches in ethics, but I suggest remedies from McDowell and Aquinas. On the latter objection, I suggest that the general moral scepticism that underlies it is better outflanked than attacked directly. I aim to outflank it by proposing what I call enchanted realism, which is a metaethics which I think goes particularly well with virtue ethics, and which is also highly pertinent to the issue of climate change.
Contractualism, Non-Identity, and Climate Change
Peat-to-power: a framework for exploring the ‘sustainability’ of Rwanda’s domestic energy supply
Rwanda has undergone a political, cultural and economic transformation in recent decades, one aspect of which entailed the construction of two peat-fired power stations. Peat, the raw energy source, is mainly extracted from marshlands in southern Rwanda. Aside from the political challenges associated with extraction sites, the implications of this novel industry for climate change have not been sufficiently addressed. Carbon released from damaged peatlands account for c. 5% of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. This paper introduces the ‘wicked’ sustainability challenge that Rwanda faces and propose frameworks for exploring alternative futures for its ‘clean’ domestic power supply, and its peatlands.
Climate Duties and Individual Projects: A Puzzle About Demandingness
How much should each of us sacrifice to promote climate justice? Plausibly, a) demandingness should be assessed over whole lives, ‘ringfencing’ central projects, and b) some projects should not ‘count’ in this way, because they are intentionally adopted. However, many adulthood commitments are valued because of childhood tastes or cultural factors. Must these always – or never – pull against climate justice duties? Both have strongly counterintuitive implications.
This paper suggests a way forward: life projects have less ‘demandingness weight’ if valued through benefiting from past injustice, and more if valued by communities who have been the victims of that injustice.
Fairness to the Future and Leaving the Present Behind
Wasting Energy to Save the Planet: Towards an Ethics of Intermittent Abundance
The renewable energy transition in Australia is creating new rhythms of energy abundance and scarcity. The intermittent temporality of renewables, including periods of abundance means that energy conservation is not always beneficial. This paper draws on ethnography with households to identify an emerging ethic of intermittent abundance. It contrasts this with a conservation ethic and continual framings of climate change mitigation through crisis and austerity and weighs the benefits and dangers of such an approach. The paper explores the intersection of energy ethics, energy temporalities, and speculation through an engaged futures anthropology to inform energy demand management and load shifting programs.
Rethinking the Overleveraged Mega Project: Rainwater Harvesting and the Decentralized Alternative to South Asia’s Urban Resource Crunch
Elaborate rural-to-urban water delivery infrastructures service thirsty cities, but at a large financial and environmental cost. In Nepal, the Melamchi water pipeline produced South Asia’s longest water supply tunnel after 23 years of construction, and with an expenditure of over $800 million USD that Japan, the Asian Development Bank, and the Nepali government financed. This paper argues it is time to rethink this ecologically destructive, inefficient, and overleveraged resource transfer model while using novel means to finance water delivery. On offer is the alternative of urban rainwater harvesting as a cost-effective means of patching gaps in the urban resource crunch.
An Interest-Free Future? A Proposal for Sustainable Finance
In 1937 Joan Robinson proposed that “when capitalism is rightly understood, the rate of interest will be set at zero and the major evils of capitalism will disappear”. Fixing a permanent zero interest rate would reduce the discount rate on the future and encourage sustainable resource use. It would also ease the financing of energy transitions. This counters a standard justification for interest: that paying a return on savings helps to restrain current consumption and preserve resources for the future. A more future-friendly way to reserve a portion of output for capital is via taxation.
Stranded Assets and Legitimate Expectations
Avoiding dangerous climate change will require us to leave a majority of carbon fuel (oil, gas, coal) reserves in the ground. This creates various risks of harm to carbon fuel extractors (companies and states), their shareholders, entities further down the supply chain, associated industries, employees, and citizens in countries involved in carbon fuel extraction. Recently, this issue received heightened attention, with divestment campaigns pushing some investors to lower their exposure to carbon assets.
The risk of stranded assets is an often overlooked burden of climate change policy. We surmise that it receives little attention because it is supposed to mainly fall on international carbon fuel companies, developed western countries, and the elites in resource-rich countries. Compassion for these groups might be limited. However, stranding assets has non-obvious, secondary effects for carbon fuel producers stakeholders. In this paper, we explain how the harms from stranding assets constitute a normatively significant burden.
Energy limbo? Dual underinvestment into both fossil and renewable futures
Since 2014 a historic breakdown of oil investment has occurred. While capital flows to global renewable energy remain woefully short of net-zero targets, investments into oil and gas are so low they are roughly in-line with these net-zero targets. This dual under-investment into the future of both fossil fuels and renewable energy has received little attention in energy geography. Yet this dysfunctional investment pattern has already begun to have substantial negative impacts on consumers and broader social processes. This paper argues that this poorly understood phenomenon of under-investment into any energy future presents an additional challenge to a capitalist-led energy transition.
Ian Edwards &Tim MacDonald
Trillion-dollar fiduciaries retire the oil industry: A backcasting case study
It’s 2034: BP’s CEO celebrates news that the former oil company is now a 100% green energy company. It caps an audacious 10-year stewardship turnaround triggered by the fiduciary-led Stewardship Fund.
It’s 2024: An innovative alliance of global pensions worth $5T takes BP private for $100B in its first stewardship deal. Immediately, BP begins dismantling its oil and gas operations and triples green energy R&D.
It’s 2023: A Massachusetts state bill is passed. It revises governing fiduciary standards and corrects fiduciary noncompliance in its $90B public pension. It sparks a global compliance review of fiduciary standards unlocking tens of trillions for stewardship.
In this report from the future, Bank of Nature outlines the outcomes of a real-world legislative bill that acknowledges public pension plans as unique and untapped financiers with the mission, duty and financial scale to pay for climate security.
The warm glow of investing for good: exploring value(s) in the social finance chain
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) will require a shift in financing for aid from billions to trillions of dollars. Advocates position private investment as the only means of achieving that, through a broad spectrum of social finance including ESG, SRI, and impact investing. There has been less attention to how investors engage. If the ‘warm glow’ of philanthropy helps explain the impure altruism of voluntary donations (Andreoni 1990), what about investment that aims at environmental or social good and profitable financial return? Ultra-high-net-worth-individuals (UHNWIs) hold $30 trillion in assets and are often represented as both driving and benefitting from the trend. This paper is based on ethnographic interviews with UHNWIs, their advisors, and those looking to influence their role in social finance. Drawing on the anthropology of value and social study of the investment chain it interrogates the production and role of the warm glow of investing for good.
Fahima Al Farabi
Financing the Energy Transition Locally: A Justice Perspective on Energy Cooperatives in the Netherlands
Based on fieldwork with three cooperatives in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands, the present article will focus on the financial aspect of their energy projects, namely, how initiatives gain members who fund them and how stakeholders of the projects negotiate and define ownership of energy produced, as well as the ratio of investment versus profits generated by the projects. Subsequently, the article will consider the limits of such collective financing, i.e. whether access to participating in the cooperative energy projects proves equitable in terms of investment shares. It will thus take into account who can share in the benefits of sustainable energy thus produced, examining the relation of the cooperatives to a just transition process.
The promise of finance – materialising visions of the future in an anthropogenic era
Energy Ethics and Incentives
Inflicting harm on people without their consent by emitting greenhouse gases or other forms of pollution is fundamentally unethical, and classified as an economic externality, but often carries no legal liability so is not tortious. This is a defect of the legal system which evolved before externalities were clearly recognised. Economic incentives to reduce externalities have long been recognised as the appropriate response in many cases, and a carbon tax is a classic example. As well as raising revenue, such a tax should ideally equate the social cost of emissions with the private benefits to the emitter, thus restoring efficiency without reliance on ethics, though their role in directly motivating appropriate behaviour as well as raising compliance and efficacy of the tax system, and thus reducing administrative costs should not be underestimated. Education to instil energy ethics should thus be a high priority in the campaign to achieve net zero emissions before global heating becomes irreversible.
Simulating Energy Futures: Climate Affects and Energy Ethics in Simple Climate Models and Games
In response to despair about climate change, U.S.-based nonprofit Climate Interactive creates educational role-playing games and workshops based on their instant, simple climate and energy system dynamics models. Through affective, social and embodied experiences, participants learn about the complex dynamics of energy policy, policies’ financial priorities and the future such priorities simulate. This ethnographic paper will explore conference themes of time (hope, despair, futures), risk (speculation, simulation) and infrastructure (climate mitigation). What forms of ethical reasoning, moral aspirations, financial priorities do these models and games entail? And what possibilities and limits do they project onto the future, financial or otherwise?
Climate conscious citizens and the emotional negotiations of time and infrastructural possibilities
The climate crisis concerns us all. At the same time, the socio-political debate on options for action and moral obligations for all generations has intensified: Who can/must act and contribute to financing mitigation? The problem is that scientific knowledge and political debate are often far removed from everyday experiences. The problem is that scientific, political and everyday knowledge are not always on the same level. Conflicts are inevitable.
Therefore, this paper investigates how climate conscious citizens produce climate knowledge and design collective solutions. Central aspect is the financing of energy futures and climate mitigation at the local level: How do local actors shape their everyday life along the lines of climate knowledge on the one hand, but also along their own needs with regard to uncertain energy futures? In particular, the perspective beyond the political stages, that of emotionalized time issues and infrastructural possibilities, is to be presented in this paper
Giovanni Frigo & Roman Meinhold
Electro-Crypto-Nightmare: Elucidating the Relation between Digital and Ecosystemic Sustainability
Advancements in blockchain technology applied to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), or Tether (USDT) represent bring about a plethora of issues, from governance and authority to currencies stability and inflation. Among others things, and despite criticisms, cryptocurrencies promise to revolutionize financial markets thanks to enhanced security and decentralization. Some cryptocurrencies that use blockchain mining according to the proof-of-work model require peer-to-peer computations by which transactions are validated and verified. These methods require large amounts of electricity, the origin, distribution, and use of which raise fundamental ethical and political questions. Data from the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance suggests that Bitcoin’s electricity consumption of 121.05 (TWh) surpasses that of both Argentina (121 TWh) and the Netherlands (109 TWh). Drawing from energy ethics scholarship, we discuss key ethical issues related to this staggering electricity consumption and propose to broaden the notion of “sustainable energy” by integrating digital energy uses into ecosystemic strong sustainability.
Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh
Can Fairness and Green Jobs Accelerate the Energy Transition in Canada?
Hypothesis: Can fairness and green jobs reduce the social and political tension surrounding climate policy implementation, and thereby accelerate the green economy transition in Canada? This article tests this hypothesis: the inclusion of fairness measures in the green economy transition – especially by targeting workers in the most affected sectors – will impact the social acceptability of climate policy.
Methodology: This paper formulates just transition measures and then tests – via surveys – whether they increase the social acceptability of climate policy. This paper focuses on two key policies: carbon pricing and a fossil fuel phase-out. It uses an exclusive survey (n = 1,500) conducted in Canada in 2022.
Results: Fairness measures such as support to workers and the creation of green jobs both increased the support for a higher price on carbon and for a faster decrease in the production of oil and gas.
The Ethical Risks of an Intergenerational World Climate Bank J149 (as Opposed to a Climate Justice World Bank)
Recently, John Broome and others have been arguing that future generations should shoulder the burden of climate mitigation, through a strategy sometimes called “making the grandchildren pay”. Broome also argues that economists must take on the task by designing a new institution along the lines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which he calls “the World Climate Bank”. This strategy appeals primarily to the idea of making a Pareto improvement that delivers “efficiency without sacrifice”, particularly for the current generation. More generally, “making the grandchildren pay” is said to have major pragmatic advantages, since it appeals to self-interest rather than morality. In this paper, I argue against Broome’s proposal on both ethical and pragmatic grounds. Instead of a world climate bank that shifts all the burdens of climate action to the future, I argue that what is needed is a Climate Justice World Bank that respects principles of global and intergenerational justice.
Lithium batteries as ‘the new oil’ in the Norwegian green shift
Norway, the world’s frontrunner of electric passenger vehicles per capita, is well underway to phasing out new sales of fossil fuel combustion cars by 2025. In this context, there is a growing need for social scientific reflections on lithium batteries – the central technology affording this ‘green mobility shift’. The current study follows electric car batteries through Norway employing an anthropological and STS approach. Thinking with the emic notion of the battery as ‘the new oil’, this paper shows how it is more than a bounded or isolated techno-economic object, revealing through its many complex relations the limits of dominant circular economy imaginary and energy transition policy.
Special or General Revenue? Spending the Proceeds of North Sea Oil Taxation, c.1970s-1990s
North Sea oil revenues were a subject of political controversy in late twentieth century Britain, but they were also less publicly contested within government. This paper draws on UK government archival records and interviews with former policymakers and economists. Advocates of ringfencing oil for special purposes argued for industrial investment, a territorial allocation for Scotland and a sovereign wealth fund. Treasury officials saw designating oil taxation as in any way distinct from general revenues as a threat to their power over other departments. Following the peak of revenues in 1984-5, the dominant view within government was that oil bounties had been well spent on improving economic fundamentals.
Participatory Action – a solution to energy ‘greenwashing’?
In 2020 I applied to the Small Claims Court for a refund from Shell, who had mis-sold me a tank of petrol as ‘carbon neutral’. This litigation revealed a systemic problem – energy companies repurposing economic instruments devised in response to the climate crisis, as marketing tools. Similarly, electricity suppliers’ use of green certificates to justify environmental claims, despite Ofgem acknowledging that they “do not […] offer substantial environmental benefits”, has led to accusations of ‘greenwashing’. Here we analyse a regulatory framework that facilitates ‘greenwashing’ and explore a participatory action approach to identify and collaboratively challenge false green claims.
The Drama of Green Energy: Mega-Infrastructure, SDGs and commons grabbing
In the context of what can be called the sustainability turn or the ecological imperative, the request for clean energy is at the top of all governments and also investors agendas. This interest is also highly increased by the SDGs and Agenda 2030 in the goal 7 (affordable and clean energy). There is, however, no debate on what that means for local different contexts in which these green new energy futures shall be implemented. From a social anthropological and political ecology perspective, there is empirical evidence that powerful state and non-state actors push the discourse of a green enchantment in the context of energy mega-infrastructures as golden bullet of the time. There are no discussions on how local groups in a decentralised way could contribute to the change other than individuals driving clean electric cars or taking the train. This sort of combination of green governmentality combined with green anti-politics machines hides two issues that should be highlighted in this talk: First, it does not address that by this discourse the continued grabbing of often communal lands or common property in marginal areas is pushed further by implementing large-scale solar, wind and biofuel investments. It follows the same procedures as the classic land grabbing process since 2008, just on a higher level of scale and justification – not just for development but for sustainable development. Several cases from Africa and Europe will be used to illustrate this process that undermines local cultural landscapes owned and maintained by commoners. I argue that in this way also resilience capacity to cope with extreme weather changes yet to come is strongly lowered. Second, it undermines local agency for decentralised energy transitions, needed for a sustainable and fair distribution of energy stemming from commoners. The talk will highlight examples indicating the innovative local energy futures rooted in commoner’s organisational structures.
“This is not about money”: Norwegian battery futures and the meanings of growth
Lithium-ion batteries play a pivotal role in transitions towards low-carbon economies. As a result, battery manufacturing industries are emerging rapidly in countries like Norway, where four so-called battery Gigafactories are planned. In places where they are set to be located, local governments play an active part in realising these large-scale projects. To them, the new industry is hoped to bring growth. But if “this is not about money”, as municipal authorities emphasised, what is ‘growth’ all about? And how do they prepare for it? Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a small town in Norway, this presentation follows local government employees in their preparation and planning practices for the Gigafactory. Thereby, it aims to grasp how they form knowledge about the unknown ahead while envisioning industrial growth as part of a desirable future.
Ocean Waves: Aesthetics, Knowledge, and Energy
This presentation is based on fieldwork in Scotland at an artistic research hub, a marine energy center, and a scientific museum collection. I am interested in how the energy of ocean waves is mediated in ecological and technological objects, particularly wave energy converters and seashells used in climate science, which function as a permanent repository of transient waves to be extracted for knowledge and energy. By tracing these and other mediations of ocean wave energy, I examine the tensions and relations between artistic, scientific, and financial renderings of waves and their futures.
The Limits to Growth in the North of Sweden: A More-Than-Human-Ethnography on “Sustainable Development”
Investors see the North of Sweden as a treasure chamber: rare metals for electric cars, timber for the bioeconomy, excellent conditions for hydro- and wind power. The European Green Deal requires these resources and infrastructures, even if they violate indigenous rights, degrade the soils and decrease biodiversity. This presentation is based on a more-than-human ethnography, seeking to study existing land-use conflicts from a less anthropocentric perspective. What can be gained by considering reindeer, trees or digging machines as actors in a capitalist growth society? I argue that such an approach is needed to understand and respect the limits to growth.
Autonomy and Eco-Technology
For Marx, ‘technical ideas’ are the “real motor and determinant of history.” In his own words: “technology discloses man’s code of dealing with nature, the process of production by which he sustains his life, and thereby also lays bare the mode of formation of his social relations” (quoted in Castoriadis, 1987: 29). Rather than see this as fixed and determinate, Social Ecology envisions an ‘eco-technology,’ where “technics… far from being a given… is potentially the most malleable of humanity’s modes of ‘metabolizing’ with nature’” (Bookchin, 2017: 128). The community-owned Eigg Electric provides a model for such an eco-technology. Eigg Electric inaugurated new social, economic and ecological relations, with residents negotiating natural limits on energy-use, deliberating on investment/expenditure and rendering transparent their energy supply chains. Community ownership of renewable energy transitions offers one avenue by which to ‘Finance the Future,’ where investment can focus on ‘degrown,’ ‘local’ and ‘community-led’ solutions.
Ewan Jenkins, Cornelia Helmcke, Lydia Cole
Peatland Carbon and Community Interests: The Political Ecology of Restoration Practices on the Outer Hebrides of Scotland
Community governance of vulnerable ecosystems offers a forum for developing democratic skills, reimagining land ownership and building climate resilience at local and transnational scales. This study of community-owned sites of peatland restoration in the Outer Hebrides will produce novel insights into the potentials of these situated democratic-ecological relationships. In the context of the Capitalocene, drained and ecologically degraded peatlands have been widely re-envisioned from a source of energy and agricultural production to a sink of carbon, necessarily entailing investment in ecosystem restoration. This has invited not only government financing, but large-scale sale of peatlands into private ownership, where successful restoration could lead to carbon offsetting in support of achieving net zero ambitions. This paper discusses the role of democratic governance and socio-ecological relations in effective peatland restoration at local scales, with the ambition of supporting the cultural and natural wealth of Scotland’s rural communities.
How to unlock value in the present from a mine that is still to be built in the future? International Investment Protection and other strategies to turn Simandou iron ore reserves into assets
Simandou mountain chain in Guinea in West Africa is the biggest non-exploited high quality iron ore reserve in the world. Over the past 25 years small and big international mining companies have coveted the reserves, but the mine has never been built. This presentation compares how the inhabitants of the Simandou region, the involved international mining companies and the Guinean government all sought to leverage their parallel property claims over the mountain chain to capitalize in the present on the projected future construction of a mine. International mining companies were able to leverage their exploration permits and mining contracts for financial gain without ever needing to mine largely thanks to investor-state arbitration clauses that limited the state’s ability to seize the permits and push the mining companies to start mining and paying royalties. I show how the prospect of investor-state arbitration allows for capitalization in the absence of physical extraction.
Within the North Sea energy industry, a transition is slowly taking place. Starting from a place of purely extractive energy production, a journey towards net zero is underway. Simultaneously, on-shore renewable energy production is also increasing. Turning Scottish moorland traditionally used for field sports, into spaces inhabited by wind turbines.
Featuring contributions from industry stake holders and academics within the field of renewable production, this film looks to explore the shared challenges and difficulties in moving towards a net zero and reaching the Scottish governments ambitious targets for renewable energy production.
Eeva Kesküla, Arina Aleksejeva
How will we finance this winter? Energy workers, energy prices and surviving the future in Estonia
This paper focusses on current and former miners of the Estonian oil shale mines after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the increasing energy prices, exploring the concerns about the immediate and distant energy futures. The immediate future concerns intensified labour in the mines after the start of the energy crisis and worry about family livelihoods, including coping with the increasing energy and heating costs in the coming winter. The distant future relates to regional economic transformation, decarbonisation and climate change. We show that contrary to the popular beliefs, mine workers mostly do recognise human-induced climate change, support decarbonisation and are willing to find employment in other sectors. Nevertheless, the immediate concerns of the decline of the region, economic hardship and energy security of Estonia are entangled with sceptical visions when and how oil shale mining should be terminated and how just transition to carbon-neutral energy production is achieved.
Isla Munro Kinnear
How does state finance influence renewable energy R&D?
This paper explores the differing role of the state in financing renewable energy R&D in France, Britain, and the United States. Their different approaches and the outcomes highlight the value of state-led finance as it is mission-oriented instead of profit seeking. The argument for the increased role of state finance in renewable energy originates from the theory of mission-oriented innovation by Mariana Mazzucato. Through an economic history approach, this paper compares the approach of each country in developing innovation and questions how state finance can be applied to encourage renewable energy R&D.
Christine Knott & Leah Fusco
Techno-finance futures: Material and discursive convergences of oil and aquaculture in Canada’s blue economy
Many blue economy approaches to ocean governance promise equitable and sustainable ocean development and climate solutions while also including industrial aquaculture and oil, two decidedly unsustainable ocean industries. For instance, Canada’s blue economy approach emphasizes how financing the digitalization of offshore technology applicable to both oil and aquaculture will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help reach climate targets. Consequently, industries that have never been (or should have been) categorized as “green” are currently being reshaped and reimagined as “blue” (i.e. sustainable) through future technological overlaps and solutions. In this paper, we illustrate how Canada’s inclusion of both aquaculture and oil in its blue economy is justified through the discursive and material merging of what we call “techno-finance futures.” We explore these future visions and question their obfuscating utopian narratives, asking if the financial-technological advancements on which they are based can support just and equitable regional blue economies.
Sarah Knuth & Zac Taylor
Decarbonizing Housing Under Climate Risk: The Limits of Climate Value Capture Finance in Florida
This paper scrutinizes financing practices increasingly sold as climate change solution for urban governments, what we term climate value capture (CVC). CVC instruments share a distinctive privatized logic: that decarbonization and adaptation infrastructures can be made to generate capturable value and thereby “pay for themselves” in anti-redistributive ways. We situate CVC in historical US urban practice and broader trends in urban climate finance. We then explore an exemplary instrument, residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). This retrofit financing tool promises to solve linked climate-related devaluation threats facing US homeowners and local governments, though has been accused of abetting “green” predatory lending. We underline more systemic risks presented by PACE’s rise as a “climate-proofing” solution in Florida—particularly, its vulnerability to broader breakdowns in the state’s property re/insurance regime under climate catastrophes. CVC’s privatized interventions rely on such collective property market supports in under-acknowledged ways—risking crises if these supports collapse.
Food cooperatives in the mission to promote bottom-up climate-energy transitions: opportunities and limitations
This study sheds light on the role of food cooperatives in sustainable transition efforts. As a case study, I explore a food cooperative in South Korea, Hansalim. This one-of-a-kind experiment in the country presents an interesting example of a cooperative-led socio-environmental movement that engages customers in climate-energy-food transitions through their purchasing experience. The preliminary findings indicate that the underlying principles upon which Hansalim was established have given a deeper layer to the organization’s identity and programs, differentiating themselves from other cooperatives on similar missions. Based on the document analysis, I discuss the opportunities and limitations of cooperative-led bottom-up climate-energy-food transitions.
Venture capitalising the green future?
Venture Capital investors (VCs) have jumped onto clean and green tech startups in recent years – from green petrol and hydrogen power to decarbonising construction and transport. Green or clean VC has been hailed as the new hype – promising both ‘real solutions’ and ‘real returns’. Based on four years of ethnographic research with VCs between Silicon Valley and Europe and ~60 interviews especially with ‘Green VCs’, I will share insights into three tensions and problems they are currently facing. While many impact VCs generally, including green VCs, have ‘good intentions’, the real impact of the companies they invest in is rarely measured systematically (’no measurement problem’); additionally, they often only collect ‘easy to measure’ metrics, rate and multiply them into ratings (e.g. carbon footprint; ‘bullshit squared problem’). Lastly, the established VC business model (blitzscaling unicorns to exit) as based on fast timelines (8-12 years) does not necessarily align with complex green tech companies – partly explaining the above problems: once VCs get a chance to exit (sell shares to a later stage, strategic or corporate investor), the actualisation of the (intentioned) green future doesn’t matter (or: pay) anymore. Two cynical conclusions are possible: at least Green VCs are trying and financing part of the way – or: Green VCs don’t deserve the label as they are never really measuring, seeing, caring about or benefiting from the green future.
Meng-rung Lin, Hsin-Yu Lu, Ru-Yi Liu
The multiplicity of value of offshore windfarms in Taiwan
Since the United Nation (UN) proposed net zero action in order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas, carbon has become a source of value which is calculated and priced in the global energy market. The moral value of green energy originated in the global agenda of carbon reduction, and it demonstrates the ethics of sustainability and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Offshore wind energy, as one of the essential sources of green energy in Taiwan, has its market value to the contribution to climate finance. However, the value of wind energy is realized differently across the local public. People in Taiwan expect projects of wind energy to infuse profit into their daily lives and local development. In this paper, I seek to explore the following question: What is the social process of a globalized value of green energy being localized? Through negotiation and collaboration between developers and bureaucrats, various expectations are exchanged, and multiplicity of value of wind energy emerges. Drawing on materials from workshops, briefings with community members, and interviews with bureaucrats, I argue how the multiplicity of value of wind energy is situated in the context of global carbon market and local discourse of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) in Taiwan.
Predictions of electricity prices as embedded devices for coordinating European futures
In the paper, I address the difficulties in negotiating environmental and economic regimes of valuation for European economies by focusing on price predictions of electricity as devices for coordinating future European projects, and the embedding of these devices into different organizational fields. Price predictions, I argue, are devices some actors use for the sake of fostering communication of their interests across organizational fields and to coordinate cross-market projects, the EU’s green energy transition being one of them. However, price predictions also allow actors to challenge the proposed projects openly, or direct attention to alternative ones – such as the national economic growth or energy and geopolitical security. The focus on price predictions of embedded devices for coordinating European futures opens up broader questions regarding the ability of the European Union institutions to successfully carry out moral projects, especially if they touch upon the existing markets and fragile geopolitical positions of particular member states.
Aleksandra Lis-Plesińska, Rafał Szymanowski, Marek Jaskólski
The Role of Expectations in the Transition to Electric Mobility: the case of Poland
Transition of transportation systems has brought about different expectations as to vehicle’s performance in terms of air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases, their ability to assist drivers or even replace them with autonomous driving functions, as well as their role in the organization of urban spaces. These expectations tend to vary depending on the scale from which transportation systems are theorized and practiced – urban, national, supranational – and depending on the type of actors who participate in transportation systems – (1) business/industry, (2) civil society, (3) public administration/policy makers or (4) research institutions/academia. This paper examines expectations about battery electric vehicles in Poland. Around 30 selected documents were coded with regard to the expectations about transportation futures in Poland and 30 interviews with experts and stakeholders carried out. The results were analyzed within the framework of sociology of expectations and STS approaches to energy futures to better theorize the role of expectations in transition processes.
Investors as Stewards of the World Order? Postcolonial Paradoxes of ESG in Emerging Markets
In spite of the challenges, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing has maintained its appeal among politically progressive institutional investors as a pragmatic discourse and strategy for spurring sustainability reforms through the financial markets. When it comes to emerging markets (EM), however, the spectre of (post)colonial geopolitics haunts investors’ efforts to influence the governance of natural—including energy—and human resources in developing countries. Drawing on two years of work experience (2018-2020), plus five months of ethnographic observation and interviews (spring 2021), at an NGO promoting ESG investing among institutional investors, this paper examines how activist ESG investors in EM attempt to mediate between ostensibly universal goals and particular interests by means of financial levers in their negotiations with sovereign and corporate actors. The idea that ecological, social, and financial “goods” are fully aligned in the long run is shown to play a key role in reconciling the tension between means and ends in EM investor “stewardship,” even while it undermines the critique that the global financial architecture needs to change.
The impact of government grants on households’ willingness to pay for microgeneration heating technologies – An empirical analysis of household preferences
The decarbonisation of the UK’s heating system is fundamental to the UK’s achievement of Net Zero by 2050. This research intends to make a meaning contribution to understanding households’ willingness to pay for low carbon, microgeneration technologies, namely geothermal energy from mine water, solar boilers, heat pumps and hydrogen boilers. Households’ willingness to pay for different forms of low carbon heating systems will be determined using the choice experiment methodology, capturing the effect of different cost and other attributes of heating systems, namely carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions and local job creation. The willingness to pay will be investigated within the context of government grants intended to incentivise the adoption of novel technologies, and behavioural, informational, and contextual factors that impact on households’ preferences towards microgeneration heating systems.
The Nuclear Anthropocene of the Soviet North: Creating the Socialist Geo-Nation
In 2019, the Anthropocene Working Group’s members voted for the first atomic bomb blast in 1945 as a decisive geological marker that globally manifested the end of the Holocene epoch and the start of the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch that is characterized by a significant human impact on planetary processes and Earth’s geology. This report explores the production of vernacular geological knowledge about uranium during the Cold War. In particular, it discusses uranium-gathering practices in Siberia as a form of geopower exercised in an “invited space” in the phrase of Gaventa, where citizens were encouraged to participate in geological exploration of the “bowls of the Earth” for national benefits. The material used for this report comprised a set of youth magazine articles and guidelines issued in the 1930s–1950s by Soviet geological agencies with the aim of promoting vernacular geological practices among Soviet citizens, as well as archival materials and field data collected from geologists and indigenous people in Transbaikalia, eastern Siberia, in 2021. These materials are discussed in a broader context of the Soviet version of the Nuclear Anthropocene’s concept formulated by Soviet scholar Vladimir Vernadsky (1863–1945).
Laura Marsiliani, Lucy Naga, Thomas Renström, Luca Spataro
Green Investment and Kantian Morality
Socially Responsible Investment, where individuals go beyond their private benefit when making an investment decision, cannot occur under standard preferences. Thus, the theoretical literature has sought to go beyond in introducing additional motivations (‘warm glow’ and ‘morality’). We survey the literature on warm glow preferences and Kantian morality, with the focus on investment and the resulting equilibrium asset prices. A central question is whether those preferences enable an efficient equilibrium, in the sense that externalities are internalised, or whether government intervention still is needed. If government intervention is needed, what is the nature of this intervention under those non-standard preferences? In this paper we develop a model of ethical investment driven by Kantian morality. We show how, rather than obtaining a Samuelson rule for public goods provision, we obtain an asset pricing relation containing a pollution premium. We contrast the asset pricing relations for Kantian equilibria with the Pareto-optimal asset pricing relation and deduce the consequences for equilibrium pollution.
Design for Value Change as a Climate Action Approach
Value change is an ethical problem with practical implications in engineering and technological design. Many technologies and socio-technical systems quickly lose their relevance and contribute to, among others, the growing amount of e-waste which pollutes landfills. Whereas engineers face these issues more often these days, the ethical approaches to a technological design largely remain silent about the relation between the problem of value change and much-needed climate action through the design process. Some studies scrutinise the problem of value change in technological design, facilitate a long-term vision in multi-life span systems, and emphasizes the need to address extended time frames more explicitly. Yet, this scholarship doesn’t systematically reflect the environmental concerns underlying the problem. In this presentation, I suggest taking a step further in claiming that the problem of value change should hold a more prominent position in the ethics of design discourse because it is inherently a climate action problem.
Anna Melnyk, Hanne Cox, Amineh Ghorban, Thomas Hoppe
Elucidating Value Dynamics in Energy Democracy: The Case of Community Energy Initiatives in the European Union
In the European Union, energy democracy (ED) is considered a desirable policy goal. One way to achieve ED is through empowering local communities to become agents of change who can pursue more sustainable energy provision with community energy initiatives (CEI). ED itself is multifaceted. It brings together a set of values important for communities (e.g., democracy, social justice, equity, recognition, trust, and transparency), decentralised energy systems (e.g., sustainability, autonomy, sobriety, reliability, and affordability), as well as other values. However, there needs to be more conceptual clarity about these values and how they may relate. Such unclarity is present in both academic scholarship and policy documents. To scrutinise these, we propose an account that captures the relationality between the values of CEI and the values of ED. By contextualising these values within value systems, we claim that each system has a climate —value dynamics— induced by conflicting or otherwise interacting values in a CEI.
Injustices in rural electrification: Exploring equity concerns in privately owned minigrids in Tanzania
Access to electricity is vital for many basic needs, but it is often unaffordable. Since 2008, there has been an increase in private companies providing electricity access in rural areas through solar minigrids in Tanzania. This paper focuses on the different tariffs used in projects in Tanzania and how they distribute costs. Data were collected over eight months of fieldwork in 2019/2020 from six rural communities through interviews, focus groups, surveys, and directly from minigrid companies. I have found that by private companies treating electricity as an economic good, communities experience energy injustices. Under many tariffs poorer households pay more per unit than those with higher incomes. Poorer households are less likely to be able to connect and under some tariffs self-disconnect from their electricity service. Barriers such as lack of participation in project development, high tariffs, and high connection fees limit the benefits of rural electrification.
Knut Christian Myhre, Douglas R. Holmes
Redescribing the Corporation: Ownership, Productive Incompleteness, and the Future in Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund
This paper explores the ‘expectation documents’ that Norges Bank Investment Management deploy in ‘company dialogues’, which together at voting at annual shareholder meetings constitute the exercise of ownership that forms part of their ‘responsible investment’ of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global. Attending to their form and content, the paper explores how the documents posit sustainability as a premise for GPFG and redeploy for novel purposes a notion of ‘expectation’ that is integral to financial investment, corporate management, and modern economic theories. Sketching how the documents address different future-oriented practices, and await responses that manifest in activities, documents, and relations of different kinds, it considers how they operate as platforms of interaction and tools for reflection that mobilize the corporation and its capacities to facilitate changes to fundamental notions and activities of the corporations, and thereby recast them as well as the global economy around new issues and concerns.
Timothy Neale, Kari Dahlgren, Matthew Kearnes and Kirsty Howey
Fostering and funding carbon frontiers in northern Australia
In the context of what has been regarded as an “emission-centric” model of climate governance, carbon’s geographies and materialities have emerged in recent years as a focus of international climate policy. Over the past decade, these policies have increasingly shifted from a linear model to a circular model of recycling and sequestering emissions. Australia, a signatory of many UNFCC agreements and world-leading exporter of fossil fuels, represents a leading example of what occurs when circular carbon becomes the norm. Coal and gas projects remain the subject of significant financial and political support, but now their anticipated increases in emissions are linked to planned carbon abatements elsewhere, increasing the material, financial, and discursive connections between old and new carbon economies. This paper presents three interlinked cases in Australia’s Northern Territory to illustrate how carbon’s circulations are being fostered and funded. By analysing the interdependencies that are being generated through policies that seek to “balance” the generation and mitigation of carbon emissions, we identify how sources, sinks, and the mediation of relations between them all comprise key zones of the contemporary carbon frontier.
Losing Your Concepts during Climate Breakdown
Abstract: Increasing climate change, its already visible effects, and the continuous inaction by governments is often said to be causing “eco-anxiety” for young people. In this talk, I will try to show that, in addition to the complex emotional burden, young people also face the conceptual loss of moral concepts. Young people learn and grow up with central moral ideas such as “justice”, “equality”, “democracy” or “liberty”, but given the inaction on climate issues despite commitments to said values by those responsible, as well as increasing greenwashing of climate solutions that merely pretend to enact these values, these ideas are conceptually eroded to a point where they become unintelligible for young people concerned about the climate crisis.
Colin Nolden, A Monier, T Mose
Creating new value out of new values in the clean energy transition
From local authorities pledging carbon neutrality to organisations seeking to offset their carbon emissions, new funding and finance arrangements are emerging in support of this transition. This paper analyses the financial shift associated with this transition to a zero-carbon economy through the lens of new value and new values. Rather than analysing divestment strategies or new financial tools, it seeks to shed light on the new logics out of which they emerge. Of particular interest is the incoherence between values prioritized upstream (financial return) and downstream (social or environmental impact). Downstream values and learning need to be translated into upstream equivalents to tilt finance more effectively towards socially and environmentally desirable investments. The development of enabling legal frameworks may facilitate this. Without such a shift (in values, laws, and financial instruments), investments in decarbonisation are in danger of being cancelled out by investments in fossil fuels.
Frontlines of growth and de-growth frontiers: a critical examination of fossil fuel resistance in Lancashire, UK
This paper grounds debates calling into question the ‘growth’ imperative as foundational to prosperous futures by approaching the concept from the bottom-up. I draw on 13 months of ethnographic research with the anti-fracking movement in Lancashire, UK, to explore the relation between embodied resistance to fossil fuel infrastructures and potential manifestations of de-growth practices on a protest frontline. What sustainable futures did people aspire to, and what current livelihoods did they grapple with as they spent time on a protest frontline? What did people reject when they rejected carbon intensive infrastructures and the system such infrastructures emerged from? What did activists want “more of” and “less of”? In engaging with such questions, I critically build on recent research investigating “the enactment of degrowth-minded activism within real world complexities” (Lloveras et al. 2021: 1) as it attempts to elucidate the complex shapes of our energy futures.
Times of finance: methods, organizations and global relations
This presentation is based on interviews and participant observation carried out with financial professionals working in M&A, VC and PE in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Western Europe between 2011 and 2016. The paper studies the multiple understandings of time that these professionals use in transactions concerning health and environmental protection, focusing on the temporalities of financial techniques, organizational concerns and imaginaries of states. Financial professionals combine in various ways these multiple, partly disconnected and contradictory temporalities, as they produce monetary hierarchies by how they collect and distribute money worldwide.
William Otchere-Darko & Gisa Weszkalnys
Between ‘Park’ and ‘Energy Transition Zone’: Contesting Just Transition in Aberdeen
This paper examines proposals for and ambivalent responses to the planned Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) in Aberdeen, situated adjacent to the city’s harbour expansion, the St. Fittick’s Park nature reserve, and the working-class neighbourhood of Torry. We explore the notion of ‘just transition’, contrasted between official Scottish policy and activists’ contestations of what justice means in projects like the ETZ. While the ETZ experiments with future energy imaginaries in Aberdeen, it also unearths contested notions of justice and problematises the notion of just transition.
When mitigating investors uncertainties threatens the urgency of an energetic transition. Thinking about “time” along international arbitration
The rationale for the existence of investment treaties, which proliferated after the end of the Cold War, is twofold: reducing the uncertainty of foreign investments and increasing the economic development of host countries. The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) of 1994, is no exception to this logic as it was born of the will to facilitate energy investments from Western to Eastern Europe. With the increasing number of international arbitration cases brought on the basis of the ECT, the treaty is now under fire. Despite its ongoing reform, many countries have already announced their intention to withdraw from it, because of its inadequacy for the current climate emergency, and even the threat it would pose to climate policies. This paper will seek to shed light on the temporal dimension of investor-state relations in energy trade through international investment law, looking at both the anachronistic stability of the ECT text, and the unpredictability of its interpretation for the states, in a context of energy crisis.
Kelly Rebecca Prime
Smart(er) Energy Justice: A Methodology to Elicit Justice Concerns in Smart Meter Futures
Imagined smart meter futures position individuals as prosumers, consuming and producing energy based on price signals. But, how do these imagined futures fit into people’s everyday lives? I explore how an infrastructural and place-based methodology can support people to co-ideate alternative futures. Through the foregrounding of infrastructure using mapping, this research highlights the relationships between individuals and their material, everyday experiences of energy infrastructures. When given the opportunity to engage in co-ideation of smart meter futures, what role do people imagine for themselves and their households and to what extent are they concerned with questions of equality and justice?
Margarita S. Rayzberg
Planning for Power: Competing logics of economic planning and experimentation in the case of rural electrification in Kenya
The rise in the last two decades of experimental approaches for fine-tuning development projects and assessing their viability for policy is challenging planning as the governing regime for economic and social advancement in the periphery, including around energy. This paper looks at case of the “New Deal on Energy for Africa”, a ten-year rural electrification plan launched by the African Development Bank Group (ADB) in 2015, and the “Rural Electric Power: Evaluation of Household Electricity Connections in Kenya”, an experimental impact evaluation carried out by Innovation Poverty Action (IPA) as a case in which the epistemologies and temporalities of planning and experiment clash. In examining the negotiations among the researchers and state actors about the timing and nature of the universal rollout, I show the tremendous amount of work required to accommodate the conflicting political and epistemic needs of both regimes, often at the expense of the programs’ intended beneficiaries.
Financial Mechanisms for Low-income Communities: Autogestión Comunitaria (Community Self-Sufficiency) through Solar Energy Innovation.
We currently live in a society organized around Energy Socio Technical systems that are dominant. The systems are not designed to serve to serve everyone equally. The way they are organized in dominant regimes are colonial, extractive and cause harm to communities that are on the frontlines, vulnerable or have been oppressed by the systems. There is an opportunity to reconfigure these systems in a way that not only serve these communities but empower them to be the protagonist of the transition. I study the case of Puerto Rico through critical ethnography methods to understand people stories, experiences, struggles, be more flexible in my participations in their process and work with them towards their visions. Guide by these questions: Why and how are energy socio-technical systems excluding, oppressing, and locking in vulnerable local communities in their design? How can Energy Socio-Technical System be re-designed to benefit those at the bottom? In this paper, I will focus on the aspects of financing local solar energy initiatives. What are the mechanisms for local communities with little access to capital to develop a solar energy project? And how are the case study’s current markets and policies affecting/enabling communities to achieve energy security and economic benefit?
Pablo Ampuero Ruiz
Making the Lithium Market: Lithium Experts Balancing Sustainability and Profitability in the Energy Transition
In April 2022 a tweet by Elon Musk suggested that Tesla might directly engage in lithium production to secure better prices for lithium carbonate to power electric cars. Original Equipment Manufacturers have historically kept hawkish strategies to make electric car prices competitive, and lithium carbonate producers have faced difficulties with governments and downstream businesses to increase the output of a product with chemical characteristics that make it hard to tame. Amidst these challenges, lithium experts are tasked with connecting interests across private and public actors, including governments and academia. This presentation argues that market experts are critical actors in how a market is made. Through interviews with lithium market experts in South America, the US, and China, I reflect on how their expertise is produced, what narratives are mobilised to enact market developments, and the politics of knowledge circulation in the making of a lithium market.
“I’ve got to be creative!”. Crafting strategies to afford LPG for clean cooking in Kenya
Access to clean energy remains a mirage for Global South households, challenged by the cost of available options. This paper describes the mundane experiences of financing LPG gas bottles for clean cooking in Langas, an informal settlement in Kenya. Residents aspire to use LPG, whose price is state-subsidised. However, its sale model remains problematic: the cost of the initial equipment is prohibitive and sustained use a struggle hampered by the upfront cost of the refills. I investigate the strategies residents and LPG retailers craft to overcome these constraints, e.g. joining saving groups, advancing cash for future refills, establishing loan schemes.
Becoming a prosumer: The ethics of financing a renewable energy cooperative in Italy
Renewable energy cooperatives try to challenge the centralised structure of energy systems, which has generally favoured large-scale energy generation and corporate ownership. Cooperatives intend to allow civil society actors to invest in collectively owned, typically small-scale, power plants so that they can become “prosumers” (simultaneously producers and consumers). But what forms of ethics and economic moralities are at play in financing renewable energy cooperatives?
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with an Italian renewable energy cooperative, the paper explores the particular notion of the “prosumer” that emerges from the negotiations between this organisation and its customers-members as they navigate the electricity market.
From containment in the depths of the Salado Formation to container economies: Assetization of nuclear waste
In 2010, the only geological repository project under licensing review in the United States for the ‘permanent’ disposal of high-level nuclear waste, the Yucca Mountain project (Nye County, Nevada), was abandoned. Soon after, a group of local actors from Carlsbad, New Mexico, volunteered for their region to become an alternative site. The city of Carlsbad is also home to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The only operating deep geological repository in the world, WIPP mediates the disposal of a specific category of military nuclear waste in the depths of the Salado Formation, hosting it for 10,000 years. Unlike Carlsbad’s subterranean landscape, which will remain radioactive, with the completion of WIPP’s operational phase, the city’s active nuclearity will end. In this paper, I analyze two distinct ways in which local actors attempt to keep their community, geography, and geology nuclear. In the first, high-level nuclear waste would be contained in the depths of the Salado Formation for hundreds of thousands of years. In the second, transferred into concrete containers, the waste would be ‘temporarily’ stored at on-surface facilities located in the region of Carlsbad, and become a form of asset that circulates in container economies
Frugal Futures and the End of the Good Life? Analysing Elites’ Energy Visions
Energy transitions in light of climate change raise fundamental questions about people’s socio-economic wellbeing alongside environmental sustainability. Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork within the Norwegian energy industry (from 2018-2020), this paper examines how strategically positioned leaders and experts envisioned ‘good energy futures’. To begin with, I outline the historical context of Norway’s internationally renowned social welfare system, financed in large part by the country’s hydrocarbon industry. I continue by analysing how calls to “end oil” challenged long-held perceptions about an interdependence between Norwegian hydrocarbon revenues and the welfare state. Many industry professionals feared that without continued hydrocarbon financing the future may be worse than the present. Others, however, envisioned that only ‘degrowth’ in production and consumption (of energy and beyond) could lead to plentiful, sustainable, and egalitarian futures. This paper thus illustrates the intimate relation between welfare, energy, and finance in visions of ‘good futures’.
“Make Museums Fossil-Free!”: Learning from Debates over Cultural Funding
Since the early 2000s, museums across Europe have experienced a growing wave of creative interventions by artist-activist groups calling for the divestment of cultural institutions from oil funding. As some museums end their decades-long partnerships with corporate sponsors, and universities around the globe increasingly commit to divesting from fossil fuels, the critical work of activist groups continues to shape debates over financing in the public sphere. Reflecting on activist discourses in museums and current professional discussions of funding in the cultural sector, this paper explores the implications of “ethical funding” for broader questions surrounding the future of philanthropy in a so-called “green energy” transition.
Rajdev Sheokand, Navreet Kaur
India’s Energy Transition: Climate Risks and Finance
The frequent occurrence and intensification of extreme weather events due to Climate Change have brought an unprecedented disruption to the agricultural sector, industrial and economic outcomes and human, aerial, land and aquatic ecosystems. Every component of ecosystem and biodiversity is vulnerable to the risks posed by climate change induced events but the risks related to financial stability and energy security are increasingly becoming complex. Countries are responding to these risks through a spectrum of policies and strategies, mainly focusing on transition away from carbon intensive energy systems. The finance needed for such measures is sourced from both public and private entities and proving to be a challenge for developing countries. India is no exception to these risks and transitions and has been at the forefront in aligning policies according to international agreements. This paper maps how the various climate risks affect the financial system in India. An attempt has been made to assesses India’s efforts towards ensuring energy security through green transition and green financing. The paper attempts to make a case that coordinated partnership between developed and developing countries can provide an efficient transition towards low carbon economy.
Economic Security, Grangemouth, and the Petrochemicals Industry from c.1957 to c.2005
This paper traces the history of Grangemouth, a BP petrochemical town, from 1957-2005. Following WWII, public investment saw Grangemouth experience rapid economic transformation, with the industry shrinking throughout the 1980s as the government and BP divested from petrochemical refining. As BP privatised, it moved towards more profitable areas of oil and gas exploration, stagnating public sector obligation towards Grangemouth. The project shows how petrochemical financing during early post-war expansion entrenched the town in a single capital-intensive enterprise. Localised realities of industrial policy are illuminated as Grangemouth tried shape their own energy future and navigated socio-economic pressures of the 1980s.
Future Perfect: Ecologic and Economic time in Elizabeth Filhol’s Doggerland
This paper discusses the interference of ecological time scales and the offshore oil market’s cyclicality in Elizabeth Filhol’s novel Doggerland (2019). The novel illustrates the human and environmental costs of our energy futures. The aim of this paper is threefold, (1) to explore issues of energy transitions in the marine landscapes of the North Sea, (2) to examine the novel’s take on the offshore oil industry’s investment cycles and their entanglement with the protagonists’ mental health, (3) to discuss the novel’s outlook on energy futures and alternative fictional concepts of energy finance.
Ghosts of industry past in the clean energy investment rush
A downpour of U.S. government investments worth over $400 billion is fueling an energy transition rush. Funds from the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are subject to President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which mandates that 40% of the benefits flow to “disadvantaged communities,” as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency screening tool. Academics, industry professionals, and lab researchers working on a variety of energy applications currently find themselves grappling with these new accountabilities. Drawing from embedded ethnographic research with STEM professionals working in wind, nuclear fusion, critical minerals, and carbon capture and storage, I explore how Justice40 imperatives define “ethics” for energy project proponents. Justice40 opens up space for STEM professionals to reflect upon the sociotechnical nature of energy systems, even as it gives new life to older techniques of accountability that were explicitly designed to facilitate industrial expansion.
Energy Crises in the Time of Covid: Legacies of Fossil Fuel Dependency, (De)Regulated Electricity and Extreme Weather
Energy crises have occurred in dozens of countries since early 2021. The Russia-Ukraine war is now exacerbating the problems. This paper draws on cases studies of several such crises – with a focus on the 2021 natural gas/electricity crisis in the United Kingdom and the February 2021 winter storm blackout in Texas. These and my previous work on energy crises in Puerto Rico and Greece suggest high risk of crises in situations of fossil fuel price hikes, extreme weather, and/or high sovereign debt. Poorly-regulated, privatized electricity appears to put even industrialized countries at risk of “new” energy poverty when faced with combined stresses. Given the new IEA predictions of a decade of volatile fuel prices these vulnerabilities pose a problem for a green transition, which presupposes a stable electric grid.
Callousness, demandingness, and climate change
How much should polities and individuals invest to contrast climate change? In this paper, I defend that climate action is more demanding than commonly appreciated. Indeed, there is a series of small climate action policies that would each diminish emissions, and each policy prevents a large amount of suffering from climate change in the next centuries. I defend that, on any plausible moral and political theory, each policy is morally obligatory. However, in absence of pervasive technology conducive to net zero emissions, implementing all morally obligatory policies is much more demanding on individuals than has been so far appreciated: cars, heating, and consumptions of imported products should become the exception rather than the rule. I explore objections and dilemmas arising from such demandingness.
Narrating Permaculture within Storytelling Nuclear Legacies: Literary Dimensions
The emphasis on studying nuclear narratives from the perspective of envisioning hope and resilience encourages to appeal to the literary implications of situating ‘permaculture’ (Chapman, 2015) within storytelling nuclear legacies for further reconsidering the apocalyptic and post-traumatic rhetoric of energy-driven society. The focus on regenerating agricultural/gardening technics under permaculture ethics can be regarded not only as a tool of validating sustainable greening heritage within the radiation legacy, but also as a trigger for shifting from physical/spiritual survival to resilience/hope in the context of emoting ‘nuclear legacy’. The submission aims to demonstrate some literary implications of permaculture in narrating ‘the nuclear legacy’ in nuclear fictional writings of the post-Chernobyl age (Hesse’s Phoenix Rising, 1994; White’s Radiant Girl, 2008; Blankman’s The Blackbird Girls, 2020), via framing ‘tierratrauma’ (Albrecht 2007) as a starting point for hope and survival within fictionalizing the nuclear legacy for further debating the tools of emoting sustainability.
Matthias Täger, Richard Perkins
Sustaining the unsustainable: Green finance, promissory legitimacy, and the maintenance work of financialised capitalism
How financialised capitalism maintains its legitimacy in the face of systemic crises has been a long-standing focus of inquiry. This paper foregrounds the role of promissory legitimacy manufactured by ‘green finance’ in these endeavours. We argue that the promises, imaginaries and expectations of what ‘green finance’ might achieve in the future are not only important for finance to legitimate itself to publics but importantly to mainstream financial market participants, too. Focusing on products, devices and actors, the paper emphasises the ongoing work which is necessary to construct, maintain and repair the promissory legitimacy of green finance.
‘This is not a forum for reducing poverty, this is a forum for offsetting’: Responsibility, fairness and the moral economy of the voluntary carbon market
This paper examines the moral economy of the voluntary carbon market (VCM), an increasingly popular mechanism used to offset emissions.Through interviews with market participants, I chart different understandings of responsibility around mitigating climate change and their accompanying market practices. The VCM is meant to allow emissions reductions to take place with the least cost. However, participants disagree about whether companies should be held responsible solely for their emissions, or whether they should also respond to the effects of climate change via financing sustainable development. The VCM shapes and is shaped by moral understandings, ultimately affecting both decarbonization and adaptation.
Kristian Høyer Toft
Seeking compensation for Loss and damages – Reviewing climate litigation cases through the lens of human rights and ethics
The paper is a review of moral arguments found in the emerging research agenda on business, human rights and climate change with a particular focus on corporate climate litigation cases (Carbon Majors vs Greenpeace South-East Asia 2015; the Milieudefensie vs Royal Dutch Shell 2021). The paper takes a particular focus on recent UN (United Nations) negotiations on compensation for ‘loss and damages’ that is intended for state actors (Paris Agreement 2015). However, if a non-state actor, like a big corporation is held responsible for a) causing climate change, should it therefore (with some qualification) b) pay to compensate climate victims?
Words across markets: What green, sustainable, and impact mean between bonds and carbon credits
In both financial policy and particular financial markets, explicit discussions on the environmental, social, and climate impacts of financial products has increased dramatically. Keywords such as sustainable, green, and impact jump between different financial products and markets, invoking a range of meanings. This paper analyzes the vocabulary trajectories in green bond and carbon markets. At a time when UN climate conferences centre on utilizing financial markets and direct regulations are legally defining what words such as sustainable, green, and net zero should mean in finance, documenting the trajectory of these words and their associations is particularly pertinent.
Nynke van Uffelen
‘They changed the rules during the game’: understanding energy conflicts as normative uncertainties about restorative justice
Stakeholders in energy controversies often express moral concerns of (in)justice, which are generally categorised through a tenet-based energy justice framework. However, a more precise analysis is often lacking. Therefore, this article proposes to shift focus towards capturing different conceptions of justice. This approach is illustrated by a qualitative analysis of the controversy around underground gas storage Grijpskerk and Norg in the Netherlands. The results show that the conflict is constituted by competing conceptions of restorative justice. The institutionalisation of one conception delegitimises and hides certain justice concerns, which leads to misrecognition and possibly to the escalation of the conflict.
Nynke van Uffelen, Daniel Wuebben, Giovanni Frigo, Roman Meinhold, Lorenzo Simone
Abundance and Sufficiency within Energy Utopias: Financial Implications of Sociotechnical Imaginaries
Sociotechnical imaginaries drive sustainable energy transitions. These narratives, which include utopian elements, are present in both fiction and policy documents. They may influence societies, financial aspects, and the restructuring of energy systems. We assess the opportunities, limitations, and risks of energy utopias and distinguish between two categories: utopias of sufficiency and utopias of abundance. Analysis of prominent examples of energy utopias in literature and policy shows that abundance is assumed or even legitimized . A virtue energy ethics perspective helps us scrutinize such assumptions. While utopias of abundance tend to overlook planetary limits and global injustices, utopias of clean energy sufficiency for all should be prioritized.
A “Guaranteed Investment”? Energy Cooperatives and Financial Risk in Greece
The current energy crisis and prior accelerated processes of decarbonization have pushed for more investments in renewable energy production in the European South. In Greece, this renewed focus entailed a strong political promise of energy democratization and an attractive hope of “easy money”. In this paper I will discuss the frictions between these two utopias by studying the mushrooming of local energy cooperatives around the coal power-plants of north Greece. Bringing together the current green financial tools available to them, merging and acquisition strategies of global energy firms, state-backed price guarantees and the economic imaginaries of low-strata people “investing” cooperatively, I try to understand how risk is discursively denied while inequalities are practically (re)produced.
Johanes Narasetu Widyatmanto
Energy systems’ resilience: engineering approach, political-economic presuppositions, and its moral significance
This paper aims to show the moral significance of energy systems’ resilience by articulating its engineering components and its political-economic presuppositions. ‘Resilience approach’ to energy systems grew popular in the last decade among engineers, economists, and public policy researchers. However, its moral significance appears less treated or taken for granted. This paper contends that energy systems’ resilience is only morally significant if, from the beginning, the working engineers consider it instrumental to society’s resilience. While energy systems’ resilience is not a moral value or higher-level principles, it can still be a guiding concept for a morally significant engineering practice.
Reconciling Time Value and the Liability Condition: New regimes of capitalization across western Canada’s Petroscape
Financial infrastructures shape oil and gas well capitalization in ways that profoundly impact corporate production, reservoirs, and bottom lines but also local communities, First Nations sovereignty, and global climate. While the process of asset capitalization is regulated by governing bodies, it is not without significant controversy. Emerging ESG reporting standards and calls by First Nations groups for ‘energy reconciliation’ (i.e., Yahee vs. BC, Treaty 8 Canada), work to ensure that decisions over asset capitalization are not left to settler finance, and government regulation alone. The paper explores how these new categories of value work to reproduce, stall or reshape corporate behaviors within western Canada’s petroscape.
Stranger than Fiction? The Ethical Insights of Energy Utopias
Recent energy-related narrative research spans from the analysis of individual narratives of energy users (Gordon 2018, Muller 2018) to the national visions of energy pathways (Durdovic 2022, etc). These results suggest that narratives, especially future-oriented narratives, can supplement and even enhance the political willpower and socio-technological imaginaries required to enact a fast, fair, and just energy transition. However, the impact of fictional utopian and dystopian energy narratives remains unclear. Therefore, in this presentation, I address the energy systems and social orders represented in Ursula Le Guin’s Dispossessed (1974), Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia (1975), and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry for the Future (2021). As climate fiction (or “cli-fi), these three novels narrate the transformation that occurs when a society threatened by ecological collapse is re-engineered; for researchers, they open questions about the ethics undergirding our commitment to a fair, just, and efficient transition.
Lina Xie, Bert Scholtens, Swarnodeep Homroy
Climate Focus of Public Financial Intermediaries
Abstract: We explore the extent to which domestic Public Financial Institutions (PFIs) integrate climate factors into their operations and strategies. As government-owned or sponsored institutions with socio-economic policy objectives, domestic PFIs are vital in leveraging climate finance at the local level. We conduct a textual analysis of PFI reports in Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US between 2016 and 2020 to measure their climate focus which informs their attention to climate change. We identify geographic and sectoral patterns and examine driving factors of their climate focus. The findings underscore the need for effective climate-related guidance and regulations from authorities.
Paloma Yáñez Serrano and Benjamin Llorens Rocamora
Madrid had 42 days of heatwave on the summer of 2022. This is the story of how nine adults over 65 years old, living in the neighbourhoods affected by the urban heat island effect, experienced the hottest day of the summer. It shows how they live with energy vulnerability and how they battle against and surrender to the heat, as they go about their day. The narrative is built in collaboration with participants, who were the motor of this summer ethnofiction. It reveals the strategies inherited from our grandparents as well as a blatant criticism to how heat is approached in the urban design. It is both an homage to our traditional heat coping strategies and an open question to the heated urban environments that will shape our futures.
Crisis Bonds & Concessionary Loans: Drawbacks of development via ESG
In September 2020, seven months into the pandemic, the African Development Bank (AfDB) was selected the year’s “Best Issuer of Covid-19 Bonds” and presented with a Global Capital Bond Award for its “leadership in sustainable bond issuance” (Barclays 2021). With this Covid bond, the African Development Bank was a forerunner on a trend that would soon take epic proportions. Total social bond issuance jumped ten-fold in 2020 to reach $163 billion (Barclays 2021). This paper asks what impact this transformation has on African families who are among the social bonds’ intended beneficiaries, drawing on ethnographic examination of the circulation of funds from the AfDB’s 2020 “Fight Covid-19” social bond in Dakar, Senegal. I first show how the rapid expansion of the sustainable finance market during the Covid-19 pandemic gave rise to new forms of financialization of crisis relief. Then, I examine evidence from Dakar that illustrates how the entangling of crisis aid with financial markets works to reinforce inequalities at global and local scales, as relief funds are filtered through the systemic inequalities of the global financial system and the “economies of abandonment” of late liberalism (Povenelli 2011).