Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Breffni Lennon; Niall Dunphy
49th Conference of Irish Geographers
Empowering the Energy Citizen? Experience and Perspective at the Interface of the Energy Transition
Cork, Ireland
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
While it is widely accepted that we are witnessing an ongoing and profound technological transformation of the European energy system, to date there has been a tendency towards what can only be described as rather top-down, technocratic solutions. Usually, initiatives designed to promote this transition have incorporated human expectations and experiences in rather superficial ways, emphasising a need to change people’s behaviours to specific technologies over addressing the very real and fundamental challenges that are required. Since people are essential to the energy transition, this diversion in focus presents a significant potential weakness to those efforts. Therefore, this paper will explore how ideas of citizenship inform local people’s responses to the energy transition and how their experiences do not always coincide with the narratives from those driving the transition. It presents the perspectives of people living in six quite different communities from across Europe, with each community facing its own considerable challenges as they embark on their energy-transition pathways. The intersectional experiences of individuals within those communities, as they negotiate those very same challenges, are also considered. In reality, local people often occupy more (re)active, participatory and sometimes conflicted spaces than the over-simplistic, neoliberal and consumerist paradigm would suggest. The “energy citizens” within these communities have expressed contested notions of agency in individual decision making, a deeper understanding of the efficacy of public policy than one would otherwise presume, and the socio-environmental parameters that are thrown up by these dynamic interfaces.