Citizen participation: promoting or prohibiting a green recovery and just transition?

Citizen participation: promoting or prohibiting a green recovery and just transition?

Dr Rebecca Ford, University of Strathclyde

The panel discussion contributes to the theme: Consumers & energy publics: public attitudes and acceptance, social movements, workers, civil society organizations, consumer protection, fuel poverty

Recent work on energy and the just transition has turned increasingly towards the perception citizens have of their energy systems and their awareness of the important role energy plays around them. Do people feel connected to their energy systems? Are they even aware of the just transition and their position within it? How can we increase this awareness and what might the benefits be?

These are all very interesting questions, yet a more fundamental question remains unanswered: do people really need to care about energy for a just transition to take place? Or more controversially: could community, local, or participatory approaches slow the transition or have negative impacts on the distribution of benefits or costs? While awareness may help to improve wider attitudes and public discourse around energy and the just transition, at what point does public participation prevent or constrain national decision making? Could engaging those who may be affected by the energy system transition in the decision-making process adversely affect the UK’s ability to decarbonise at pace and in a socially equitable way? As discussions turn increasingly urgently towards energy for a green recovery from COVID-19, understanding people’s connection to and role within the energy system may very well be more pertinent than ever before.

This panel discussion will focus on a key debate on the benefits of bottom-up versus top-down just transition approaches, and the extent to which citizens should be included in decision-making processes.

The panel will be chaired by Dr Rebecca Ford, who is the Research Director of the EnergyREV consortium, exploring barriers, drivers and impacts of smart local energy systems. Panel members come from a diversity of disciplines, backgrounds, and perspectives.

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