Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Breffni Lennon; Niall Dunphy
RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017
Activating the Energy Citizen? Negotiation and Agency at the Community Level in the Energy Transition
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
European energy systems are currently undergoing a profound technological transformation towards low-carbon, socio-economic frameworks. This energy transition has to date largely focused on top-down, technocratic solutions that rarely incorporate the human dimension and as such underline a significant potential weakness of those efforts. By recognising that that it is people who essentially lie at the heart of the energy transition, this paper proposes to explore how notions of citizenship inform local people’s responses to this transition. It presents perspectives from two quite different communities. One is located in a predominantly rural area in Ireland, whereas the other occupies an urban neighbourhood in France. These two communities face considerable challenges as they embark on their energy-transition pathways and the intersectional experiences of individuals within those communities, as they negotiate the many (and sometimes hidden) competing landscapes of social and economic power relations, are explored. Quite often individuals have been portrayed as merely ‘passive’ or ‘active’ consumers. However, in reality, local people occupy much more (re)active, participatory and sometimes conflicted spaces than this over-simplistic consumerist paradigm would suggest. Issues around agency in individual decision making, along with an often-deeper understanding of the efficacy of public policy and the socio-environmental parameters these people must negotiate inform this paper, with key findings from ENTRUST, an interdisciplinary H2020 research project exploring the human factor in the energy system being presented.