'Energy transitions from below: From climate colonialism to energy sovereignty'

Prince Claus Chair Roundtable discussion
Selva v Petroleo 2
Wednesday 15 Jun 2022, 14:00 - 16:00
Spoken Language
Aula B and Zoom
International Institute of Social Studies
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Join us on zoom -:  https://videoconf-colibri.zoom.us/j/3390105717

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Selva v Petroleo 1
Angie Vanessita

Can the talk of energy 'transition' really make a difference to the climate crisis or do the new technologies it has developed merely preserve white and capitalist class privilege?

To mark the end of his tenure as the Prince Claus Chair holder, Professor Gustavo García López, along with Diego Andreucci will moderate a roundtable discussion to consider this and other questions.

As climate change mitigation gains centrality in dominant global policy agendas, 'transition' talk has gradually been co-opted to become a green capitalist buzzword.

Under the guise of a necessary shift towards a 'renewable', 'low-carbon' or 'sustainable' economy, a host of extractivist and socio-environmentally destructive plans are being ushered in, from biofuel monoculture plantations and fortress conservation projects, to the unprecedented expansion of industrial-scale, corporate renewable energy projects and mineral extraction for building battery and other technologies.

    Preserving capitalist class privilege or saving the planet?

    These largely take place in global or national peripheries, affecting disproportionately indigenous and other traditionally marginalized rural communities, while primarily benefiting elite consumption and 'decarbonization' in the global North and other industrial 'cores'. 

    At the same time, although they are ostensibly promoted as a necessary substitute for fossil fuels, there is increasing evidence that such technologies are merely adding capacity to an ever growing energy regime, controlled by the same large corporate oligopolies; and that the decarbonization that takes place at the point of energy consumption is being shifted to where the minerals are extracted, biofuels planted, or solar panels and wind turbines manufactured. This has led critical observers to consider such plans as primarily concerned with preserving white and capitalist class privilege in the face of climate-induced upheavals, rather than 'saving the planet'.

    Given the urgency of the ongoing, uneven and combined climate catastrophe, it is imperative therefore that indigenous and peasant communities, radical grassroots organizing, and transformative social and climate justice movements, occupy and re-signify the discursive-political space of 'transitions'.

    This roundtable discussion invites speakers from across the academic-activist divide to collectively explore such issues.

    Three questions

    The discussion will be structured around three main questions:

    1. What are the main critiques we can make from your respective struggles of dominant discourses and plans for addressing energy transitions and tackling the climate crisis 'from above'?
    2. What alternative visions emerge from diverse struggles on the ground, reclaiming and advancing alternative transitions from below, centred on territorial or energy sovereignty, and advancing towards a post-capitalist, post-extractivist, de-colonial and feminist horizon?
    3. What strategies would allow such diverse struggles – taking place across geographical, political and social divides – to converge with and reinforce each other, in order to articulate a pluriversal, counter-hegemonic movement facing up to racial-patriarchal-colonial capitalism?


    The event will be introduced and moderated by Professor Gustavo García López (PCC-ISS and Center for Social Studies, Coimbra) and Diego Andreucci (PCC-ISS).

    More information

    The Prince Claus Chair in Equity and Development was established by Utrecht University and the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2003, and rotates annually between the two institutions.

    The aim of the chair is to boost the career of outstanding young researchers from developing countries and to stimulate knowledge sharing. The universities wish to use the chair to advance research and education in the field of equity and development in accordance with the views and insights of Prince Claus.

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    Prince Claus Chair in Equity and Development

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