Energy Ethics 2021
Energy Transitions & Planetary Futures
October 25 – October 27
Energy demand is growing, while urgent calls to reduce and mitigate the environmental impact of carbon emissions are intensifying. Transitioning our societies to low-carbon economies seems both inevitable and essential to planetary survival. In the lead-up to COP26, the Centre for Energy Ethics is hosting a virtual conference to reflect carefully and critically on envisioned energy transitions and what they might entail. Bringing together researchers across the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, we ask: what visions of society and planetary futures are being put forth by ‘energy transitions’ around the world? What will their implications be? And how will they be realised?
The Conference will include an exciting range of keynotes, roundtables, and research papers, as well as a virtual exhibition area featuring creative projects, research groups, COP 26 fringe events, and more. Details to follow.
Rather than taking the aims and means of energy transitions for granted, this conference brings together researchers across the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences to invite critical engagement with and reflection on the social, cultural, economic and political complexity and diversity of energy futures around the world.
Climate emergencies have been declared by governments, cities, organisations and communities around the world. What are the temporalities of climate emergencies and energy transitions? What discourses and practices of energy transitions operate within particular conceptions of political and planetary time?
The climate crisis presents a unique opportunity to rethink global prosperity and redistributive mechanisms. What notions of well-being animate calls for energy transitions? What vision of the ‘common good’ and the ‘good life’ do they proffer? What is perceived as valuable, worth investing in or not?
Climate change is a global issue, yet its impacts are differentially felt and distributed. What vulnerabilities are at stake in the face of transition imperatives? How do they work to unite or divide us? What are the demands and expectations, the sacrifices, changes and compromises that these imperatives suggest?
Calls for climate justice resound across academic, activist and political spheres, in parallel with endorsements of a "fair" and "just" transition. How do energy transitions reconfigure geographies of extraction, access and inequity? What forms of responsibility emerge in discussions, meetings and international agreements around climate change and energy futures?
Practices and visions of energy transitions are multiple, and do not always align. What frictions and harmonies are at stake here? Are different visions of society, the human and non-human, and energy fundamentally opposed? At what scale do transitions occur? How can different forms and ways of life co-exist?
‘Transitioning’ away from certain energy sources towards others comes with technical and social challenges. What material and ethical dilemmas, contradictions and achievements might emerge in the global search for more efficient, low-carbon, cleaner technologies? How do optimism and creativity figure in response to these dilemmas?
Launched on 25 February 2021, the Centre for Energy Ethics is a brand new interdisciplinary and innovative research centre directed by Dr Mette High and based at the University of St Andrews. Involving researchers from across the University, the CEE tackles one of the most urgent and profound challenges facing humanity today: how to balance our energy demands with our concerns for anthropogenic climate change. Bringing together diverse areas of expertise, including researchers, industry, and communities, we embrace our responsibility as scholars to address and collectively answer big societal questions about how to create a better energy future for us all.
This Conference is generously funded by the European Research Council and the Scottish Funding Council