Climate Emergency! Energy Crisis! A symposium on responsibility, inclusion and place-based action
The 2022 international symposium of Include – research centre for socially inclusive energy transitions will take place at Durham University, UK (with hybrid/online options) on 14-15 September 2022.
The symposium is an opportunity for comparative discussions on ongoing research and engagement between researchers, practitioners and policy makers. It is organised in three main sections: case studies on current or recent research; PhD research papers; and policy-engagement.
Participation at the conference is free and open to all. The deadline for registration is 20 August.
Climate change and responses to it, including the pressure for an energy transition, are increasingly being framed in terms of ‘crisis’ and ‘emergency’. In these terms, there are clearly multiple emergencies at play that may occlude one another, drive one another in particular directions or serve to conceal the current pressure on nature. What are the consequences of this framing, and does it shape the responses available for action? The symposium raises questions around who defines emergencies, who adopts or is ascribed responsibility, and what kinds of responsibility are in place? It asks what is licensed by defining a situation in crisis-terms, and whether this framing includes or excludes particular actors or interests, for example, are there gendered or intersectional identity effects? What is the role of indigeneity in calling, framing or acting in emergency mode? What are its chronopolitics – an emphasis on rapid or large scale action, for example, or increasing disjuncture between high-political discourse, local governance and everyday life? How do responses address potential conflicts between national and international perspectives or the trans-national nature of energy systems? And what are the links between emergency and security – the role of uncertainty or discussions about securitisation?
We invite policy makers, scholars, students, practitioners and organisations to join us and reflect on these issues during the symposium.
Case studies on emergency and socially inclusive responses
This section will be divided in three themes: A social and political energy transition; Consumption, mobilities and the built environment; and Governance, innovation and community involvement. We have invited experts in their fields to give presentations on emergency, crisis, responsibility, justice, inclusion and/or place-based action, concerns that fall within the scope of the Include research centre: how to achieve a socially inclusive and just transition to a low carbon and environmentally friendly society. Empirically, the Include research centre focuses on Norway and the UK, but we will also get presentations on research conducted in other parts of the world.
Wednesday 14th September – What do we know?
The logic of emergency in crisis times: Exception, urgency, interval, hope
What is an emergency? What makes an inclusive response?
Case studies 1: A social and political energy transition
Case studies 2: Consumption, mobilities and the built environment
Case studies 3: Governance, innovation and community involvement
Simone Abram, Durham University
End programme day 1
Thursday 15th September – Policy and practice
Electric vehicles policies
Creative response and Break
Politics, participation, and polarisation
Closing comments and thanks
Lunch and depart
Presenters and abstracts
Keynote Day 1
Ben Anderson: The logic of emergency in crisis times: Exception, urgency, interval, hope
The talk will address the specificity of ‘emergency’ as a way of encountering events and rendering them governable, in comparison to disaster, accident, incident, catastrophe and crisis. Understanding emergency as a distinct imaginative and affective ‘genre’ which exceeds the ‘state of emergency’ as political-legal technique, the paper argues that the specificity of ‘emergency’ is found in four features: felt, imagined and material exceptionality, the affect of urgency which makes prospective harm or damage or loss affectively present, the opening up of a time limited interval for action, and the continued hope that action can make a difference and foreclose loss. I conclude by reflecting on the politics of emergency at a time when emergency is being increasingly deployed beyond state actors.
Ben Anderson, Durham University
Professor Ben Anderson is a cultural-political geographer at Durham University, UK. His work research conceptualises ordinary affective life, and examines the politics of affect in relation to emergency governance and crisis, Brexit and the rise of populisms of the left and right, and other contemporary conditions. His 2014 book – Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions (Routledge)– set out a theory of how affective life is organised and mediated. He is currently working on a geo-history of boredom and changes in capitalism since the 1970s, using boredom as a way into thinking about the politics of eventfulness in political times often described and critiqued as intensely turbulent.
Affect and critique: A politics of boredom* - Ben Anderson, 2021 (sagepub.com)
Throughout his empirical work, he is concerned with how futures are encountered, related to, and made present through ordinary affects, including hope and boredom. This includes extensive research on how events and conditions are governed through ‘emergency’, drawing out the specificity of emergency in the context of the other genres through which we come to feel, know and render actionable events, for example disaster, crisis, catastrophe, accident, and incident.
Panel debate: What is an emergency? What makes an inclusive response?
Rebecca Ford is a Chancellor’s Fellow in Energy at the University of Strathclyde working jointly between the Departments of Government & Public Policy and Electronic & Electrical Engineering. She is also the Research Director of the UK’s Energy Revolution Research Consortium (EnergyREV), and holds a prestigious UKRI funded COP26 Fellowship exploring issues related to energy justice and net-zero transitions.
Rebecca’s research explores how people interact with energy systems, and how social, environmental, and technological insights can be co-developed to better inform policy for sustainable development and just net-zero transitions. Building on her diverse path through academia (across engineering, social science, and policy) she takes a multidisciplinary and whole-systems approach to her work, focusing on driving impact, and in bridging the gap between different forms of knowledge to advance solutions tackling climate change.
Policy and Advocacy Directorate, National Energy Action
Helen has 20 years of applied social research experience spanning the quantitative and qualitative paradigms and holds a BSc (Hons) in Sociology and Social Research; an MSc in Social Research; and MSc in Public Administration covering aspects of social policy development and analysis and public sector management. Helen manages the Research Team at NEA and supports NEA to be the expert voice on fuel poverty through high-quality research and policy analysis. Her areas of research interest include social policy and issues relating to poverty, energy and social justice. She is enthusiastic about exploring new methodological approaches for researching fuel poverty and the ways that knowledge can be better brokered between academia and those working in policy and practice. Helen also sits on the Advisory Board of the Durham Energy Institute at Durham University.
- Moderator: Kirsten Jenkins, University of Edinburgh
Case studies 1: A social and political energy transition
Climate action in the shadow of the war: Does securitization of the energy transition hinder or accelerate decarbonization?
Presenter: Kacper Szulecki, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs - NUPI (digitally)
When in December 2019 the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen presented its historical and highly ambitious European Green Deal proposal, little did she know what challenges lay ahead. Six months later, Europe was going through the first wave of unprecedented society-wide lockdowns as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ambitious climate policy had to be reforged into ‘green recovery’ plans, with the aim of safeguarding both climate neutrality goals, social cohesion and economic prosperity.
When the wave appeared to be subsiding, in February 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking equally unprecedented economic sanctions, with the risk of a coal, gas and oil embargo on the horizon. Once again, the European Commission responded by pressing the pedal of climate ambition to the metal, launching the REpowerEU initiative, where decarbonization goals were to be strengthened by energy supply security considerations. If the EU is to reduce its dependence on Russian gas and oil, it might just as well accelerate its phase-out of fossil fuels altogether. In a telling tweet, with climate action uttered in surprisingly militarized language, the UN Secretary General called addiction to fossil fuels ‘mutual assured destruction’.
However, this optimistic scenario, although desirable, is not the only one on the table. In this presentation I want to ask whether the growing securitization of the energy transition – evident after the Russian invasion, but clearly visible in the economic realm already since the COVID-19 pandemic, is likely to accelerate of hinder ambitious climate action. I will also discuss what that means for EU’s closest partners, Norway and the UK.
Green industry geographies
Presenter: Kendra Dupuy, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
Authors: Kendra Dupuy and Mari Lie Larsen, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
What determines the location of green energy projects? Many countries are now investing heavily in projects that produce components designed to reduce emissions and decarbonize society, such as the production of batteries and green hydrogen, and the establishment of data centers. Efforts are also afoot to reduce emissions from existing industrial projects, such as electrification of offshore oil platforms. These types of “green industry projects” are energy intensive. We investigate the extent to which the geospatial distribution of electricity supply determines the location of green energy projects.
A prerequisite for the successful development and operation of green industry projects is access to a reliable supply of electricity generated from renewable energy sources, and at competitive prices. This means that access to electricity tied to geographical location can become an important competitive advantage in the low carbon transition, and, vice versa, it can also mean significant disadvantages for some regions over others. This sub-project will investigate the relationship between existing electricity supply and price and the development of green industry projects over time and space in Norway.
Scholarship on the location determinants of firms and industry, and on the location determinants of foreign direct investment, emphasizes that factors such as local education levels, community attitudes towards industry, presence of financial institutions, and taxes are important influences shaping firm decisions about where within a country to locate their operations. Few studies have examined the importance of energy supply for the location and performance of green energy firm and projects (for exceptions, see Chauvet et al 2018; Geginat and Ramalho 2018; Poczter 2017; Panhans et al 2017), and there is a lack of academic literature on the importance and fairness concerning of energy supply for the location of green energy projects.
Kendra Dupuy is a political economist with a PhD in political science from the University of Washington (Seattle). Her research interests revolve around environment, energy, and natural resource management as well as the determinants and effects of climate policies. She is involved in research projects on energy transitions in petroleum producing countries, contentious environmental and energy politics, energy justice, climate finance governance, good governance in energy and natural resource management, shifting resource rights, private and voluntary governance, public opinion on climate change and environmental policies, and green industrialization.
Local governance and policy needs for smart, flexible energy systems
Presenter: Jess Britton, University of Edinburgh
Case studies 2: Consumption, mobilities and the built environment
Negotiating sustainable consumption in everyday life
Presenter: Arve Hansen, University of Oslo (digitally)
Arve Hansen and Ulrikke Wethal, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo
Practice theoretical approaches, now dominant in the sociology of consumption, have demonstrated how unsustainable consumption patterns are created through the upwards spiraling amount of goods included in ‘normal’ lives (Shove, 2003). Such approaches have effectively unveiled the ways in which consumption is socially and patterned and habituated (Warde, 2017), and co-shaped by infrastructures and governance (Shove and Trentmann 2018; Rinkinen et al. 2021). However, practice-theoretical consumption theory has been criticized for over-emphasizing social patterns of everyday life at the cost of both the agency of reflexive consumers and larger systemic aspects and co-drivers of consumption (Welch et al 2020). This paper seeks to address such gaps, by analyzing the ways in which self-declared environmentally conscious households in Oslo (n20) perform and negotiate (un)sustainable consumption in everyday life.
In doing so, we first build on what Ortner (2006) has conceptualized as individual ‘projects’, which are shaped by the society in which they take place, but leave room for agency as a form of intention, desire, and pursuit of goals. Hence, we acknowledge that the reflexivity of individual consumers matters, and especially in ‘contested’ forms of consumption (Keller and Halkier 2014; Gram-Hanssen 2021). Second, we explore how political economy impacts and shapes consumption patterns by combining practice theory with a deeper engagement with systems of provision thinking than what tends to be the case in contemporary consumption research, rooted in the idea that understanding consumption requires understanding capitalism (Fine 2002). Our findings shed light on how different households define and materialise projects of sustainability in everyday life, and the ways in which these projects are continuously co-shaped by household negotiations, social relations, infrastructural arrangements and broader political-economic arrangements.
Researching socio-spatial inclusiveness of urban densification strategies – using spatial capital as a theoretical conceptualisation
Presenter: Marieke van der Star, University of Oslo
To combat environmental problems and to regulate urban sprawl, low carbon policies are focusing on compact cities, where residents live in higher densities to counter automobile dependency. One of these policies is the densification around public transport hubs and multifunctional urban centres, to promote sustainable mobility practices (i.e. walking, cycling and public transport ridership). Together with an increasing trend of people moving towards (central parts of) the city, this enhances the attractiveness of urban areas and increases housing prices especially in the centrally located and highly accessible parts of city regions, potentially leading to processes of gentrification.
Such spaces have become a scarce ‘good’. An increasingly relevant question is whether these developments are socially inclusive, and what kind of socio-spatial consequences this has for the diversity of socio-economic groups living in urban spaces. In this paper I explore how the concept of spatial capital (Rérat 2018; 2011), which refers to the mastery or command of spatial aspects of life (inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s theories on capital), may be applied to develop a research design and to study socio-spatial accessibility and inequality in city regions, resulting from compact city and transit-oriented strategies. How may questions about socio-spatial inequalities and justice be addressed through the concept of spatial capital, and how may this conceptualization be operationalized and applied in empirical research.
Rérat, P. (2018). Spatial capital and planetary gentrification: residential location, mobility and social inequalities. Handbook of Gentrification Studies. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Rérat, P. & Lees, L. (2011). Spatial capital, gentrification and mobility: evidence from Swiss core cities. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(1), 126–142.
Marieke van der Star is a PhD student at the University of Oslo at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography. Her PhD project focuses on the inclusiveness and socio-spatial consequences of urban (sustainable) planning strategies. She is an urban geographer and holds a master’s degree in urban studies from the University of Amsterdam.
Decarbonising and Securing Households Under Climate Threat: What Tools, and Whose Futures?
Presenter:Sarah Knuth, Durham University
A key intellectual task in forging more just and inclusive decarbonisation pathways is exploring fast-evolving energy and climate resilience strategies together. In at-risk cities and built environments, these interventions will meaningfully unfold in the same landscapes, in complex relation with each other and with preexisting drivers of political economic transformation, precarity and injustice, frequently deeply racialised. In this paper, I investigate and theorise the emergence of ‘climate proofing’ as a widely proposed solution to securing housing values—and urban property tax bases and governing capacities—against climate-related devaluation.
These interventions are targeted at the household level and can feature major corporate ‘partners’ such as SunRun and Tesla. They seek to grow distributed energy resources (DERs) such as energy efficiency, rooftop solar and microgrids, sometimes alongside measures like ‘hurricane hardening’ and wildfire risk reduction. For households that can access/afford them, these retrofits and novel financing mechanisms like property assessed clean energy (PACE) simultaneously promise decarbonisation and improved adaptive capacity against climate threats.
In this new work, I am following consumer and racial justice debates growing as climate-proofing is implemented in high climate risk US cities in California, Texas and Florida. This inquiry poses field-crucial questions around new patterns of racialised financial exclusion in the energy-climate space, risky ‘inclusion’ via under-regulated instruments like PACE and deeper questions around racialised investments in property—as well as alternative pathways to self-determination for frontline climate/environmental justice communities.
Sarah Knuth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University, United Kingdom. Her research critically investigates how global climate change and its responses intersect with preexisting drivers of precarity, inequality, and injustice. A particular focus is how new forms of financial speculation, extraction, and self-protection are unfolding within fast-changing energy systems and urban economies, and with what implications for frontline communities. Another priority is identifying openings for more just climate futures and pathways to self-determination.
Case studies 3: Governance, innovation and community involvement
Understanding climate policies in rural settings A case study of land-use policy in four Norwegian Municipalities
Presenter: Anders Tønnesen, CICERO Center for International Climate Research
Anders Tønnesen - CICERO; Monica Guillen-Royo – CICERO; Sindre Cottis Hoff, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo
Over the last three decades there has been an international recognition of the important role of local governments in climate policy (van der Heijden et al. 2019). In this regard, limiting emissions through cautious land-use policy is crucial. This relates both to the close connections between land-use and use of energy for transport and to how land-use management influences the ability of nature to absorb and store CO2. However, while much research has been conducted to understand barriers and opportunities for climate-friendly land use in populated municipalities, studies of municipalities with small populations are rare. This paper presents in-depth studies of four Norwegian municipalities; Sigdal, Flakstad, Frøya and Åfjord, with populations between 1200 and 5200. 40% of Norway’s municipalities are in this range. To reach national climate goals it is therefore essential to understand climate policy in such settings. We ask: What are the barriers and opportunities for implementing climate-friendly land-use policy in small municipalities?
In line with Bulkeley and Newell (2015) and Bulkeley et al. (2022) we emphasise the need ofunderstanding how some elements become assembled in climate governance terms whilst others do not. Empirically, we therefore highlight how land-use policy is entangled in the management of local economies. We also make use of the social-justice framework (Jenkins et al. 2017; Sheller 2018; Perrin and Nougaredes 2020) to understand local policymaking. Central in this regard is locally perceived justice implications of both small municipalities serving needs of the society at large (in Norwegian ‘Storsamfunnet’) and from other levels of government involving in local land-use policy.
Bulkeley, H., and Newell, P.J. (2015) Governing climate change. Oxon: Routledge/ Taylor & Francis Group
Bulkeley, H., Stripple, J., Nilsson, L., Van Veelen, B., Kalfagianni, A., Bauer, F., & Van Sluisveld, M. (2022). Decarbonising Economies (Elements in Earth System Governance). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jenkins, K., MCauleyb, D & Formanc, A (2018). Energy justice: A policy approach, Energy Policy, V 105, p. 631-634
Perrin, C., and Nougarèdes, B. (2020) An analytical framework to consider social justice issues in farmland preservation on the urban fringe. Insights from three French cases. Journal of Rural Studies.
Sheller, M 2018. Mobility Justice. The Politics of Movement in An Age of Extremes. Verso Books.
van der Heijden, J., Bulkeley, H., Certomà (2019) Promises and Concerns of the Urban Century: Increasing Agency and Contested Empowerment. In van der Heijden, J., Bulkeley, H., Certomà (Eds.) Urban Climate Politics: Agency and Empowerment (pp 1-20). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Emergency Governance for Cities and Regions
Presenter: Rebecca Flynn
The role of local union representatives in just and sustainable transitions
Presenter: David Jordhus-Lier, University of Oslo
The climate crisis has profound effects on the world of work. We are constantly reminded of this through media: Whose jobs are at risk in an energy transition? Can renewable energy systems provide decent work for the many? But transition processes affect us all at work in ways that are more mundane, but also more all-encompassing, than the prospects of job loss and job creation. As we all need to change our work practices, an important question is how we can have a say in climate action happening in the workplace.
This talk aims to concretise this “greening work” agenda by discussing local worker participation in decarbonisation processes can happen in municipalities. As municipalities are among the most significant employers in many local communities, the ability of the municipal organisation to include their employees in inclusive and participatory climate action has transformative potential. In concrete terms, this would entail opening up decision-making around emissions from building, travel activities, labour processes, investment, procurement and consumption for cooperation, participation or even negotiation with the employees of the municipal organization.
In Norway, several trade unions signalled their intent to broaden the scope of collective bargaining and industrial relations to include matters of energy consumption and emissions in the run-up to the 2020 centralised bargaining round. While the outbreak of covid-19 forced a postponement of these negotiations, the issues and the agenda will not go away. Moreover, municipal sector representatives on both sides of the table have strengthened a formulation in their Main Agreement (Hovedavtalen mellom KS og forhandlingspartene), explicitly stating that measures to strengthen the Sustainable Development Goals on climate sustainability should be included in the local collaboration between employers and employee representatives. What these written intentions mean in practice in each municipality remains an open question, however.
Building on participation in dialogue meetings with representatives from unions and employer associations, the talk presents some experiences and suggests some potential ways forward in the Norwegian municipal sector. By drawing on parallel research in the Norwegian petroleum industry, some observations about the actual and potential roles of union shop stewards in “greening work” will serve as concluding remarks.
Keynote Day 2
Janet Stephenson: Culture and energy transitions
Electric vehicles policies
The electric vehicle scheme in Norway
Presenter: Lars Böcker, Institute of Transport Economics
Experiences with EV policies in Norway
Presenter: Unni Berge, The Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association
Presenter: Tracy Millmore, Durham County Council
Tracy Millmore is the Electric Vehicle project officer for Durham County Council. Tracy has worked within the local authority for 20 years on different areas providing council services. Since November 2019, she has been working on building the EV infrastructure around the Durham area and developing the inhouse depot infrastructure on the council's fleet vehicles.
Politics, participation, and polarisation
Musicians Ian McMillan and Luke Carver Goss will spice up the first day of the symposium with musical interludes. By the end of the day, they will present a musical summary of the event (!).
- The symposium will take place at the The Calman Learning Centre.
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The heritage site consists of Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle and the buildings located between. The castle, built 900 years ago, is now part of Durham University.
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