Scales and social issues of the energy transition

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Scales and social issues of the energy transition


Scales and social issues of the energy transition, 
Enseignant : Sébastien Chailleux

This is an introduction to the sociology of energy which looks at the different scales of energy transition and at the conflicts transition projects set (Zelem et Beslay 2015). Starting with how the topic of energy entered the social sciences through the sociology of environment, we present an history of energy transitions stressing the characteristics of such process, the path dependency created and modes of government of the main energy industries (Smil 2010; Topçu 2013; Evrard 2013; Mitchell 2013). We analyze how the transitions to coal, then to oil have durably shaped our contemporary societies and spaces but also structured the power relationships within energy systems (Auzanneau 2015; Pomeranz 2010). The specificity of the current transition toward decarbonized energies is its definition related to climate change and its translation as an issue of GHG emissions (Aykut et Dahan 2015). However, only changing energy sources does not answer all the questions raised about the areas where the transition takes shape (territoires en transition). We insist on local contestations of transition projects to shed light on the aspects of local governance, games of actors, projects framing and political justifications (Fournis et Fortin 2014 ; Aykut et Evrard 2017). We also look at alternative projects born from the local such as community windmills or collaborative solar panels (Cointe 2016) to underline their characteristics and how they suggest alternative mode of governance and scenario for the future (Metze 2018). Analyzing the local energy policies, we show how energy transition is at the same time a constraint and an opportunity for the local scale. But we also underline that the local translation of the transition can be conflictual with national policies and twists the definition as it is the case for the transition to gas (Gunzburger 2017 ; Evrard et Pasquier 2018). Finally, we look at the consequences of transition in terms of redefinition of the local areas because the large scale development of wind and solar energies would transform landscapes and relations to spaces, it also needs large amount of minerals from the subsurface such as rare earths which extraction is already conflictual (Phadke 2018).

Bibliographie succincte :

- Auzanneau M. 2015. Or noir : la grande histoire du pétrole, Paris, La Découverte.

- Aykut S., Dahan A. 2015. Gouverner le climat ?: 20 ans de négociations internationales. Paris, Presses de Sciences Po.

- Aykut S. Evrard A. 2017. « Une transition pour que rien ne change ? Changement institutionnel et dépendance au sentier dans les « transitions énergétiques » en Allemagne et en France ». Revue internationale de politique comparée 24 (1)

- Cointe B. 2016. « Le tarif d’achat photovoltaïque comme outil d’innovation territoriale : l’exemple des Fermes de Figeac ». VertigO, vol. 16, n° 1.

- Evrard A. 2013. Contre vents et marées. Presses de Sciences Po.

- Evrard A., et Pasquier R. 2018. « Territorialiser la politique de l’éolien maritime en France : Entre injonctions étatiques et logiques d’appropriation ». Gouvernement et action publique 4 (4).

- Fournis Y, Fortin M-J. 2014. « La politique éolienne au Québec : un méga-projet ? » Organisation et territoires 23 (3), pp. 37‑42.

- Gunzburger, Yann, éd. 2017. Le gaz de charbon en Lorraine : quelle intégration dans le territoire ? Paris : CNRS éditions.

- Metze T. 2018. « Framing the Future of Fracking: Discursive Lock-in or Energy Degrowth in the Netherlands? » Journal of Cleaner Production 197 (2), pp. 1737-1745.

- Mitchell T. 2013. Carbon democracy: political power in the age of oil. London, Verso.

- Phadke, Roopali. 2018. « Green Energy Futures: Responsible Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range». Energy Research & Social Science 35, pp.163‑ 173.

Smil, Vaclav. 2010. Energy transitions: history, requirements, prospects. Santa Barbara, Praeger.

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