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Slides NERI Seminar - just energy transitions john barry QUB 25 oct 18

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Slides from NERI Seminar Belfast on 25th October, 2018 presented by Professor John Barry, Queen's University Belfast.

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Slides NERI Seminar - just energy transitions john barry QUB 25 oct 18

  1. 1. Just energy transitions and ‘full spectrum innovation’: decarbonisation, divestment, democratisation and disruption John Barry Professor of Green Political Economy Centre or the Study of Risk and Inequality Queen’s University Belfast @centre_risk @ProfJohnBarry j.barry@qub.ac.uk
  2. 2. research base 1.‘Catalysing and Characterising Transitions’ – 3 yr Irish EPA project mapping the RoI low energy transition (2014-2017) 2. Barry, J et al (2015) 3. Healy, N and Barry, J (2017) 4. Barry, J and Mercier, S (2018)
  3. 3. the condition our climate and carbon condition is in Recent IPCC report Mary Robinson’s new book Energy transition as flip slide of climate change And a ‘just transition’ as flip side of climate justice
  4. 4. “Ireland’s location at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean ensures one of the best wind and ocean resources in Europe”. International Energy Agency Ireland’s solar climate is as good as Paris, and equivalent to 70% of the solar climate on the Mediterranean coast. This means that a transition to a 100% renewable energy system for the island of Ireland is entirely feasible.
  5. 5. local context – Republic In July 2017 the Republic of Ireland passed a law to ban onshore fracking. However, just days later, one of Ireland’s most prominent oil and gas exploration companies, Providence Resources, was granted a license to drill, in search of an estimated five billion barrels of oil. A year later the Irish government committed to divest from fossil fuel corporations, the first country in the world to do so. It appears that Ireland’s work on climate change is a matter of double-speak – with Government taking positive steps, while allowing privatised carbon-heavy industries to undermine them.
  6. 6. Fuel Poverty in Northern Ireland “The main reason for this is a combination of our climate, lower incomes, higher fuel price and a high dependence on oil. In Northern Ireland oil is the most common home heating fuel. Around 68 per cent of households use oil and this rises to over 80 per cent of households in rural areas. This over-dependence on one unregulated fuel means fuel poverty initiatives in Northern Ireland need to address a unique set of challenges which do not exist in other regions of the UK”.
  7. 7. local context- Northern Ireland
  8. 8. what is a ‘just transition’? Ensuring transition from high to low carbon economies do not increase social injustice – i.e. costs of the transition being borne disproportionally by low income groups/working class Climate stabilisation, climate justice and shift away from coal, oil and gas to renewable, decentralised energy systems Ensuring jobs in the green/renewable energy sectors are decent and well paid
  9. 9. what is a ‘just transition’ Origins in the trades’ union/labour movement. decarbonisation of the energy system requires investment and innovation in growing the low carbon system (which includes but goes beyond energy and electricity production, distribution and consumption, but includes, inter alia, the food, housing, transportation systems). But it also requires the planned retirement and decommissioning of the carbon energy system But in a way that does not unfairly or unjustly impact on workers, communities and vulnerable sections of the population
  10. 10. overcoming ‘environment vs. jobs’ framing “Labor unions..[have often] defended fossil fuel (and nuclear energy) jobs against environmental arguments and moves toward a decarbonized energy system. Here we must recognize that a “jobs versus the environment/climate” frame has often dominated labor union energy transition thinking. These concerns need to be recognized, and here a just transition framing directs more policy attention to the creation of new jobs as fossil fuel based ones are phased out. In this way a just transition focus could helpfully facilitate greater capacity for communities to plan for low- carbon energy transitions” (Healy and Barry, 2017: 454; emphasis added )
  11. 11. Avoiding ‘multiple injustices’ (Jakob and Steckel, 2016, p.9) Global Just Transition - Linking poverty alleviation, pro- poor and inclusive development of countries in the global south with climate mitigation and low carbon energy transition – via the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  12. 12. The preamble of the Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted in 2015, also underscores close links between climate action, sustainable development and a just transition, with Parties to the Agreement “taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities.”
  13. 13. just transition discourse on the island of Ireland & Scotland
  14. 14. what is a ‘just transition’? Not enough to focus on environmental/ energy/ resource dimensions of the transition from ‘actually existing unsustainability’ Economic, social, justice and human rights dimensions of any transition also needed So a ‘just transition’ is NOT the ‘greening or decarbonising of business as usual’ “as we make the transition to clean energy, we must remember the millions of fossil fuel workers around the world who spent their lives extracting the fuel that has fed our economies. They too are victims of climate change and deserve to be treated with dignity. Their story as part of the struggle to climate justice” (Robinson, 2018: 113)
  15. 15. decarbonisation Overcoming carbon ‘lock-in’ decades long timeframe of large-scale energy and associated infrastructural, economic and cultural changes significant political and economic actors and pressures that are prolonging our continuing ‘carbon lock in’ (Barry et al, 2015). overcoming carbon lock in will require major socio-technical innovations at different scales and within different social and economic sectors, activities and practices.
  16. 16. Carbon subsidies Researchers at the IMF estimated that global subsidies for fossil energy in 2014, including the social, health and environmental costs associated, are costing the world’s governments approximately $5.3 trillion per year, or 6.5% of global GDP.
  17. 17. Local carbon lock in In 2014, peat generation accounted for only 8.8% of Ireland’s electricity requirements, but 21.8% of carbon emissions from power generation and Irish energy consumers pay an annual subsidy of roughly €115m to continue this ‘carbon lock in’.
  18. 18. energy as a ‘socio-technical system’ Recognition of energy as a socio technical system, embedded in a complex multi dimensional multi actor and multi-level arena (from global to local government to households), with dynamic properties. “the key choices involved in energy transitions are not so much between different fuels but between different forms of social, economic, and political arrangements built in combination with new energy technologies. In other words, the challenge is not simply what fuel to use but how to organize a new energy system around that fuel”. (Miller, Iles and Jones, 2013: 139: emphasis added)
  19. 19. Decarbonisation and the next industrial revolution
  20. 20. Energy system transition – innovation & abandonment Governance of the abandonment of carbon energy system: fading out, termination, deconstruction Governance of promotion of low carbon energy systems: a matter of progress & innovation How to compensate individuals, families, businesses & communities who will ‘lose out’ in the transition Recognition of importance of ‘win-win’ solutions but these require mitigating policies and strategies i.e. role of the state
  21. 21. “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” - Bill McKibben, 350.org Fossil fuel corporations have 3 times more oil, coal, and gas in known reserves than what climate scientists have determined is safe to burn. We have to keep up to 2/3 of fossil fuels underground. divestment
  22. 22. divestment Institutions and investors worth $3.4 trillion now committed to fossil fuel divestment. Growth of over 80x, from $50 billion in Sept 2014 EY survey: two-thirds of investors concerned about stranded asset risk 36% of investors divested over last 12 months Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England: The carbon budget renders ‘the vast majority of reserves “stranded” – oil, gas and coal that will be literally unburnable’ The abrupt transition to a low-carbon future is ‘a financial stability risk’
  23. 23. “Managing emissions won’t do; the power of the fossil fuel complex is upstream where the rules of the game are written, capital is amassed, technological experiments are conducted, and wealth is accumulated. The end of the fossil fuel era starts with sources of power - energetic, economic and institutional on the one hand, and place based, ecological, and spiritual on the other. For that, there is no better policy direction than to deliberately and gracefully leave fossil fuels in the ground” Princen, T., Manno, J. and Martin, P., 2015, p. 360. (emphasis added)
  24. 24. “Linking fossil fuel subsidy reform and emission pricing to investments in public goods would thus greatly reduce concerns that environmental quality is paid for by the poorest segments of the population. This approach would also be well aligned with the SDG agenda, which aims at promoting human well-being without undermining the integrity of the natural environment”. Jakob and Jan Christoph Steckel (2010), p.18 Redirect public subsides from carbon to renewables, public transportation and other public goods for example
  25. 25. democratic disruption and social mobilisation While largely a macro-level/high level and policy set of proposals, the Just Transition idea does also lead to recommendations for democratic citizenship and civil society action “Political action by civil society will be required to accelerate the phased ending of the fossil fuel era. More than that, it must end it in such a manner that the transition to a low- or post-carbon energy future minimizes injustices of that transition and maximizes its democratic character. It can and should do this through reframing fossil fuels as having now reached the point where their continued use is destructive, biophysically and ecologically unsustainable, perpetuates injustices, secrecy, lack of transparency and accountability—and propagates major geopolitical tensions”. (Healy and Barry, 2017: 456)
  26. 26. “Civil society and grassroots action we believe are and will continue to be central, This would also include non-violent civil disobedience against carbon power stations and against unconventional or ‘sub- prime’ fossil fuel extraction such as fracking. It would also include campaigns against the ‘science fiction’-like techno-optimism of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), or geoengineering proposals for solar radiation management” (Barry et al, 2015: 16; emphasis added)
  27. 27. disruption A just energy transition also requires ‘disruptive innovations’ such as speeding up the process of decarbonisation by divesting from carbon energy. Here the recent historic decision by the Irish state to divest from fossil fuels is an encouraging development, alongside other divestment initiatives. The Irish decision also underscores the centrality of the state in any just energy transition, using regulation to drive socio- technical innovations, which should be extended to the state enabling and supporting the democratisation of low carbon energy production, such as community-owned renewable energy
  28. 28. ‘full spectrum innovation’ Similar to imperative to move beyond a ‘fuel focus’ in energy transitions, we also need to move beyond a narrow technological-cum-commercial view of innovation A just energy transition requires social innovations not simply in low carbon lifestyles but also experiments in low energy living and communities, where high quality lives, jobs and communities are based on using less not more (carbon or low carbon) energy … focusing on the untapped potential of energy conservation, efficiency and reduction. ..and ‘unlock’ innovation from being narrowly viewed in technological terms and/or commercial/business terms
  29. 29. Trade union perspective “Expressions of energy democracy presently remain very much on the margins of the global economy and they are a long way from disrupting the established energy order. But this could change—especially if unions become seriously engaged.” (TUED, 2015: 1) But not just energy transition but also energy efficiency/conservation … “It is therefore important to challenge any scenario that sees expanding energy use as inevitable. A comprehensive trade union approach to energy transition should be as concerned about conserving energy as it should be about generating it”. (ibid.,: 2) And perhaps energy reduction/energy descent?
  30. 30. democratic ownership of low carbon energy as a public good “Unlike other countries (Germany, Canada, Denmark, the UK), however, there has been almost no local investment, ownership or involvement of local communities in […] wind farm developments..” (IMPACT, 2017:16) Just Transition is the “opportunity to give citizens a greater stake in low-carbon development through much greater levels of local authority and community ownership of future solar PV, wind farm, biomass and waste-to-energy developments” (IMPACT, 2017: 6). “SIPTU campaigns to prevent the privatisation of Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and Irish Water. Public goods in public ownership are central to the concept of a just, low-carbon transition as publicly [sic] are pivotal to low emissions as well as energy and resource security” (SIPTU, 2017: 14; emphasis added).
  31. 31. State, energy and democracy Mobilising the ‘patient capital’ of the state for rapid and urgent decarbonisation? But requires democratic moblisation, citizen advocacy/support and broad coalition of diverse interests “The basic principle behind a public goods approach to energy transition is simple: the future of human civilization is at stake, and everyone will therefore benefit from a planned, orderly, and transparent energy transition that devolves as much power as possible to workers, communities, and municipalities. However, governments will have an important role. A massive deployment of renewable energy will require high levels of planning and coordination in order to ensure that the right mix of renewables is developed”. (TUED, 2015: 45)
  32. 32. “The transition from fossil-fuel-dominated energy systems to more renewable-based energy opens an opportunity for shifting technologies as well shifting social and political dynamics through democratic re-alignment of these sociotechnical systems. Energy democracy provides a set of goals and policy instruments for resisting the dominant energy regime while reclaiming and democratically restructuring energy systems, sectors and institutions”. (Burke and Stephens, 2017: 45)
  33. 33. Beyond carbon and beyond orthodox GDP measured economic growth? A just energy transition may require not simply moving beyond carbon and the creation of a green/low carbon/ regenerative economy but also beyond orthodox economic growth, perhaps the most disruptive innovation of all needed to transition beyond our currently sub-optimal and ecocidal energy and development trajectory. At the very least it opens up the opportunity or necessity for rethinking our economic model and ideas of development and progress in the context of climate breakdown, low carbon energy transitions in the 21st century and avoiding the worse impacts of climate breakdown
  34. 34. References 1.‘Catalysing and Characterising Transitions’ – 3 yr Irish EPA project mapping the RoI low energy transition (2014-2017) https://www.qub.ac.uk/research- centres/TheInstituteofSpatialandEnvironmentalPlanning/Impact/CurrentResearchProjects/CCTr ansitions/ 2. Barry, J et al (2015) https://www.academia.edu/23407456/Low_Carbon_Transitions_and_Post- Fossil_Fuel_Energy_Transformations_as_Political_Struggles_Analysing_and_Overcoming_C arbon_Lock_In 3. Healy, N and Barry, J (2017) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421517303683 4. Barry, J and Mercier, S (2018) https://medium.com/@johnbarry_90904/barry- mercier-89d92079701f
  35. 35. Role of ‘crisis’ in motivating, facilitating energy transitions and possible ‘carbon unlocking’ “We never know when the winds of change will blow, but when they do we must always have our sails at the ready” E.F. Schumacher “the possibility exists that policy makers may have to wait for a focusing event, such as a recognized climate crisis, before implementing new policy frameworks” (Unruh, 2002: 323; emphasis added)

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