Welcome to the
3rd Energy and Society Conference:
Transforming Energy for Society
ESA RN12 - Environment and Society Midterm conference
Leipzig, Germany, September, 12-14, 2016
The Energy & Society Conferences have been aiming at inspiring and providing networking opportunities for researchers interested in energy and society issues. Following the success of the two previous conferences, we will now be hosting the third conference in Leipzig. We hope this can be a great occasion for developing the sense of community that has been emerging from these meetings, as well as from the conferences of the European Sociological Association. In order to provide a lively forum for insightful debates, the conference will include other formats besides keynote presentations and sessions for oral presentations. Participants will be able to present and discuss their research in roundtables and in poster sessions. The conference will also offer a number of workshops proposed and organized by participants. Moreover, participants are invited to propose informal meetings, which will be announced during the conference. We hope that the social events will also contribute to make this a pleasant and friendly conference.
About the 2016-conference theme
While global oil and gas supplies are subject to geopolitics, the concrete form of a particular energy regime is often an issue of national politics. This has recently become clear within the context of climate change mitigation and energy security, with significant differences in national approaches. Some countries have opted for a renewed fossil fuel strategy pursuing unconventional exploitation of shale gas and oil, and new nuclear capacities. Other nations are by contrast pursuing renewable energy systems, seeking to dramatically reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and a third group, most notably China, is heavily investing in both energy regimes. Pathways of energy regimes have long term implications for the labour market, the landscape and built infrastructure, the parliamentarian spectrum and the relationship of regions to their central government. While renewable strategies call for increased cooperation between neighbouring countries, energy sector coupling and “smart” de-centralisation, fossil and nuclear pathways will reaffirm large scale industrial infrastructure, global fuel supply chains and centralised ownership.
Energy policies are foremost legitimised in a national context, but they also relate to the international discourse on climate change mitigation as well as practices on the local level. The consequences of increasingly diverging pathways thus have implications for single nations as well as for global politics. For example, in the European context, while some countries have opted for nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels, others support a post-fossil road map. The period of broad consensus that shaped energy policies in Europe for many years and formed the very basis of the early Union itself makes way for a new phase of contention.
These issues present important questions for social research, regarding discourses of risk, acceptance and legitimacy, investment and costs, (changing) practices of energy consumption and production, and evolutions in actor networks.
Taking this as a starting point, the conference explores the diversity of contemporary energy regimes and seeks to examine the emerging questions. We want to address the particular local and national contexts and also the big picture. What could be a seed for change when hopes in post-Kyoto politics are repeatedly disappointed? Do energy and climate politics need a restart to develop a new pathway for a desirable sustainable future?