Energy democracy

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Energy democracy – a political, economic, social and cultural concept that merges technological energy transition with a strengthening of democracy and public participation. The concept is connected with an ongoing decentralization of energy systems with energy efficiency and renewable energy being used also for a strengthened local energy ownership. With new green technologies available, such a transition is possible involving new actors: prosumers, renewable energy co-operatives and municipal, community-owned power stations which replace centralised, power corporations.

This concept is promoted by renewable energy business sector,[1] local communities,[2] labour unions (e.g. Global Labour Institute), think tanks (e.g. Green Institute Foundation) etc.[3] and NGO (e.g. Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Office for a democratic transition to renewable energy.[4]

There are various definitions for Energy Democracy. One broad definition has been agreed upon by the joint climate camps in Germany in 2012. “Energy Democracy means ensuring that everyone has access to enough energy. However, the energy must be produced in a way that it neither harms nor endangers the environmental or people. Concretely, this means leaving fossil fuels in the ground, socializing and democratizing the means of production and changing our attitude towards energy consumption.”[5]

In 2014, this concept has also been promoted by city of Boulogne-Billancourt (France). For its participation in the Bloomberg mayors challenge, the city presented an innovative vision of Energy democracy based on the reduction of the use of fossil fuels and a system of incentives to encourage citizens in reducing their energy consumption.

A study on Energy Democracy from 2014 concluded that there is a "universe of a thousand alternatives" across Western Europe that still emerges and expands. However the reshaping of the EU energy- and climate policy scheduled for the end of 2015 threatens to slow down or even stop this development. So far, energy-democracy has been a successful concept of grass roots movements to combine a protest against fossil fuels with a positive alternative agenda.[6]

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