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Sunday, 18 July 2010

New publication

Bit of self-promotion...well if I don't do it who will? Just got the proofs of a new book Renewable Energy and the Public, edited by Patrick Devine-Wright in which I have a co-authored chapter (with Geraint Ellis, a colleague from Queens). Our chapter's entitled 'Beyond Consensus?: Agonism, Republicanism and
a Low Carbon Future'.

One of the things we argue for is that the transition to a low carbon economy should not shy about from embracing, accepting and ultimately viewing conflict, debate and disagreement about that transition as negative or worse, to shut up, marginalise or otherwise vilify those who object to the decarbonisation of the economy in general or who raise objections to specific renewable and low carbon energy technologies or initiatives - such as most commonly objections to wind farms. Rather, from a broadly civic republican perspective (which values pluralism and agonistic/respectful democratic disagreement over 'consensus') we suggest that what is required is to move the debate away from a narrow focus on renewable or low carbon energy production (which is sadly the dominant political response). To quote from our conclusion:

"The argument we have outlined is that, by allowing a greater range of options for communities to choose how (but not whether) they ‘do their bit’, changes their incentive structure to allow a greater range of low carbon options to be negotiated in each locality. This requires moving beyond a focus on energy production to include reducing energy consumption, increasing, efficiency and adopting nonenergy carbon options such as ‘green’ waste management, food, transport, housing etc. This would require a major reformulation of the institutions in which energy and development are regulated; for example, changing land use planning to energy descent planning. Indeed, a rethink of the regulatory system is necessary in order to provide the appropriate context for the bargaining we have outlined here, with a need for a nationwide low carbon energy strategy in which communities (spatial or aspatial) know that they must achieve carbon reduction targets, but with a degree of flexibility about how they do this.

This may paradoxically) deliver more renewable energy deployment than one which narrowly focuses on the installation of renewable energy technologies. However, the greater penetration of renewable energy is not the only, or indeed the most, important consideration – it is but one among a variety of means by which the transition to a low carbon economy can be achieved. We need to take a ‘bigger view’ than renewable energy production as the only way in which we can create a sustainable energy future: allowing communities the option, for example, that a sustainable energy future may be one that uses less energy. "

Now yer appetites are whetted, go ye out and buy loads of copies!

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