New Challenges of Sustainable Energy Transformations? Ambiguity, Contingency, and Politics

Recently, social science literature is particularly concerned with implementation processes of sustainable energy transformations. The crucial question is how to analyze these complex processes adequately in order to provide answers on urgent questions like successful governance of energy transformation processes [1–4], appropriate policies and political conditions [5,6], or how long the transformation process will take [7], or how much it will cost [8]. These scientific disputes reveal the need to consider carefully socio-institutional processes in which sustainable energy transformations are embedded. In an age of populism, post-truth politics, and contestation the social-institutional environment is in turbulence. At the same time, countries all over the world but especially those from the Global South are facing climate change deteriorating living and production conditions and bringing about economic damage. We call for Panels and Papers analyzing challenges of sustainable energy transformations as well as the impact of these challenges on sustainable energy transformation processes. The overarching aim of the Section is for all Panels to draw together conceptual expertise and rigorous empirical analysis in order to explore if and how changes of the socio-institutional environment affect sustainable energy transformation processes or if and why these processes are resilient.

The following colleagues have expressed their interest in organizing a Panel within this Section:

“Climate and energy policy revisions in Europe”
(Chairs: Merethe Dotterud Leiren, CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway/ Elin Lerum Boasson, University of Oslo, Norway)
Extensive revisions of EU climate and energy policy is going on. To what extent has the Paris agreement influenced such EU revisions? What are the effects on the development of national renewable energy policies embedded in a European order? How does policy development at the global and European level affect national policies in different or similar ways?

“Energy transition(s) in the countries of central and eastern Europe”
(Chair: Filip Černoch, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)
The environmental goals of the European Union reflect the growing consensus on the necessity to limit the energy usage of coal, oil, and natural gas in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases significantly. In this Panel the case studies of energy sector transformation processes from the CEE region are provided, shedding some light on how the low-carbon technologies breaks through to the conventional energy systems, changing the way the energy is handled in this area.

“Sustaining and entrenching energy transitions. The challenge of sector coupling and sector integration”
(Chair: Jörg Kemmerzell, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany)
Sector coupling (i.e. interconnection of electricity, heat, and transport & mobility) represents a specifically intricate challenge for the prospective governance of energy transitions. Sector coupling causes specific problems of sectoral integration, since it requires the conjunction of different policy arenas constituted by different actors, institutions and logics. The Panel invites empirical case studies and comparative analyses that describe the various ways of dealing with the challenge and provide an insight into both country-specific and general perspectives on the issue.

“Political and social divisions over the energy issue”
(Chairs: Lorenz Kammermann, Eawag, Switzerland/Clau Dermont, University of Bern, Switzerland)
Political parties, interest groups as well as ordinary citizens play a central role in regulating and implementing more sustainable energy production and consumption. We are interested in factors that drive these actors’ attitudes towards the transformation of the energy system. We welcome contributions that illustrate (e.g.) the effects of beliefs and values, party heuristics, regional and social affiliations on policy-making and implementation and/or how they vary among actors.

“The social acceptance of energy and climate policy: cultural and economic explanations”
(Chair: Tomas Maltby, King’s College London, United Kingdom)
The objective of this Panel is to bring together research that explains the role that social acceptance (and the lack of) plays in facilitating/undermining energy transitions, including work conceptualising the link between populism and climate scepticism and exploring the role that scientific experts have on public opinion towards climate and energy policy.

“Energy transition and the social question: Conflicts, participation and populist forces. Does the idea of sustainability threaten to be lost in the whirlpool of events?“
(Chairs: Jörg Radtke, University of Siegen, Germany/ Stefan Wurster, Technical University Munich, Germany)
While the solution of the climate change problem is urgently required, the energy transition in some welfare nations is being put under increasing pressure by social, political and economic counter-movements. The planned Panel will examine the following questions in more detail: At local level, which examples of concrete conflict situations based on social inequality can be found? At national level, where can we prove that contrary situations lead to standstill and paralysis? At international/regional level, where can we point out that international and supranational efforts are failing?

[1] Miller CA, Richter J, O’Leary J. Socio-energy systems design: A policy framework for energy transitions. Energy Research & Social Science 2015; 6:29–40.
[2] Nance MT, Boettcher WA. Conflict, cooperation, and change in the politics of energy interdependence: An introduction. Energy Research & Social Science 2017; 24:1–5.
[3] Geels FW, Berkhout F, van Vuuren DP. Bridging analytical approaches for low-carbon transitions. Nature Climate change 2016;6(6):576–83.
[4] Turnheim B, Berkhout F, Geels F, Hof A, McMeekin A, Nykvist B et al. Evaluating sustainability transitions pathways: Bridging analytical approaches to address governance challenges. Global Environmental Change 2015; 35:239–53.
[5] Hess DJ, Brown KP. Green tea: Clean-energy conservatism as a countermovement. Environmental Sociology 2016; 3(1):64–75.
[6] Paramati SR, Apergis N, Ummalla M. Financing clean energy projects through domestic and foreign capital: The role of political cooperation among the EU, the G20 and OECD countries. Energy Economics 2017; 61:62–71.
[7] Sovacool BK. How long will it take?: Conceptualizing the temporal dynamics of energy transitions. Energy Research & Social Science 2016; 13:202–15.
[8] Sovacool BK, Geels FW. Further reflections on the temporality of energy transitions: A response to critics. Energy Research & Social Science 2016; 22:232–7.

cfp: Nuclear Waste and its Side-Effects – Interdisciplinary Conference 2017

ENTRIA 2017 conference

Interdisciplinary Research on Radioactive Waste: Ethics – Society – Technology

Braunschweig, Germany:  26th – 28th September 2017

Submission deadline: April 15th 2017.

The planned sessions will cover:

  • Substantiating the German Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) Pathway: Time Frames, Technical and Procedural Issues
    The topic is meant to provide scientific support for further specifying details of the pathway “final disposal with reversibility” not yet defined in the recommendations by the German “Endlagerkommission”. Examples include timeframes for the several stages (e.g. “monitoring in advance to closure of the repository”), recoverability requirements, or participation issues.
  • Experiences in Interdisciplinary Cooperation: Methods, Challenges, Outcome
    Scientific cooperation in interdisciplinary research projects is challenging. There are only few books, journals and reports on the subject. The topic focusses on experiences in interdisciplinary cooperation between natural and technical scientists and researchers in social sciences and humanities.
  • Technical Barriers in Radioactive Waste Storage and Disposal
    All storage and disposal options for radioactive residues need a bundle of reliable technical barriers for all considered time steps. This session addresses scientists and engineers dealing with long term performance prediction and testing, structural analysis or generic design of these barriers.
  • Governance & Participation
    New Governance with early modes of public participation and integration of stakeholders has been a promising approach in the last decade, especially in contested policy fields. In the case of critical infrastructures like nuclear waste disposal sites the potential for human intrusion and the uncontrolled distribution of radionuclides was scandalized by NGOs, pressure groups of the anti-nukes movement and a number of political parties. Governmental organizations and international institutions were willing to integrate the interested public in decision-making, e.g. in Switzerland, Sweden and in the last years also in Germany. In this section the theoretic and conceptual aspects of governance in nuclear waste management and the embeddedness of conflicts at concretes sites are discussed. Further, experiences with participation in the context of radioactive waste management in specific countries are addressed. Results from interdisciplinary research and also empirical case studies are welcome.
  • Governance & Monitoring
    Critical infrastructures, which are built to ensure the safety and security of e.g. dangerous wastes, need to be at the center of attention of governmental regulation and authorities. If the protection of human health and the environment as much as the ethical question of a “Good Life” for current society and for future generations are considered a societal aim, the state and its agencies have to build confidence, with the often very concerned public through robust management programs and public dialogue. A screening of the state of the art for long-term monitoring and robust institutions in scientific literature on dangerous wastes showed that plans for technological monitoring, long-term governance and also for public dialogue are not well-prepared. The concepts of reversibility and retrievability render these tasks even more challenging. The aim of this session is to discuss the challenges of and approaches to technical monitoring and long-term governance in an interdisciplinary manner. Scientists from radioactive waste management, spatial planning, political sciences, STS, ethics, technology assessment and engineering with interest on in interdisciplinary research are invited to present their perspectives and results on this topic.
  • Ethical and Juridical Challenges in RWM
    Both, the political and the scientific debate on RWM are loaded with normative issues. This bisciplinary section is open to papers adressing challenges faced in ethical reflection and juridical enquiry of the legal codifications needed as guidelines storage and disposal.
  • Values and Criteria for RWM Strategy Assessment
    On which base may a strategy for RWM be called safe, secure, or just? Any feasible argument on RWM-strategies relies on both, scientific criteria and normative values that form principles for evaluation and assessment. This section will stress the theoretical foundations of RWM-research in order to scruntinise, define, and revaluate the principles of its ways and findings.
  • Addressing Technical and Societal Risks and Uncertainties
    Nearly every issue of radioactive waste management is closely linked to aspects of risk and uncertainties. This session focusses on the management of these aspects – ranging from the safety of technical systems over radiation protection to uncertainties concerning the societal evolution over the next decades.
  • Research Needs in Technical and Non-Technical Disciplines — How Good is Good Enough?
    The session will collect existing deficits for realization of a disposal strategy, both from the technical viewpoint and concerning procedural challenges. In an open discussion, we will address the question whether one should aim at the best conceivable solution or rather – by a more pragmatic approach – at a solution of “only” adequate safety.
  • Education & Training in RWM: Interdisciplinary and Disciplinary Aspects
    The session covers disciplinary and interdisciplinary education and vocational training of all topics related to nuclear waste disposal. Presentations on interdisciplinary cooperative projects and national programs from spokespersons or representatives of this topic area are highly welcome. The session shall comprise short topical presentations followed by a panel discussion.
  • Geoscientific and Geotechnical Aspects of High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal
    Most nations dealing with the disposal of high-level nuclear waste are aiming for a deep geological repository. The topic is directed at researchers in Geology, Mining and Geotechnics to provide presentations on recent research and scientific results in the field of deep geological disposal.

The sessions are comprising invited and contributed talks, discussion groups and a poster session.

The social programme will comprise a public evening event and a social dinner. There will be opportunity to visit Asse, Morsleben, Konrad, the Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) on Friday, 29th. Following the international conference there will be a full day event for the public on Saturday, 30th in German language (to be announced).

The deadline for Abstract Submission has been extended until April 15th, 2017!

You may submit more than one contribution; however, the upper limit of three contributions per presenter should not be exceeded.
The book of abstracts will be published. By sending your abstract(s), all authors agree to the publication of their abstract(s) by the organizer.

For preparing your abstract, please use this abstract template. Please note: In case that your abstract contains figures, they must have printing quality i.e. 300 dpi is the minimum resolution.

During the online submission of your abstract(s), you please have to:

  • mark your contribution as poster, as oral contribution or as discussion group;
  • assign your abstract(s) to one of our conference themes/sessions;
  • fill into the forms provided by the online system the following information: name, first name & institution etc. of all authors (co-authors) of your abstract(s).

Please submit your abstract online (300 to 500 words, max. 2 pages, max. 5 MB, best as doc or docx) by following this link