Mapping Possible and Preferable Energy Futures: Geographic Challenges

Dr Sangeetha Chandrashekeran

 

The polarisation of political debate around decarbonising Australia’s electricity sector has obscured a significant development: the actually existing, if unexpected, convergence of ideas around the role of the state in the political economy of energy. After years of market efficiency nostrums, politicians are now engaged in re-regulation but are doing so without situating policies in a broader spatio-temporal analysis. Key political and economic questions about where existing and future value streams originate need to be foregrounded. With the shift to free energy sources and proliferation of smart meter technologies  what does the new frontier of extraction look like and how do we defend against enclosure of our (energy) data commons? Can we move beyond the politics of ‘affordability’ to understand the socio-spatial nuances of renewable technology uptake and the contradictions between ecological repair and social equity? And how do we take account of the wide band of uncertainty surrounding our energy-economy and consider energy futures where continuous growth might no longer be business as usual?

 This lecture challenges geographers to engage with the messy and conflictual nature of socio-environmental change that is underway. In particular, to consider how we as researchers, embedded both in this carbon civilisation and its institutions of knowledge, can (and cannot) respond.

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