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Energy democracy

from ideas to practice

Report and reflections on Transforming the Energy Sector, a one-day workshop in London on September 15th 2016, organised by Global Justice Now, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Brussels Office and Transnational Institute.

By James Angel, September 2016

 Photo by Steve Bridger, Flickr

Photo by Steve Bridger, Flickr

Four years ago, at the 2012 Climate Camp in Lausitz, the German climate justice movement agreed upon a definition of energy democracy, marking a pivotal moment in the development of this new political imaginary:

“Energy democracy means that everybody is ensured access to sufficient energy. Energy production must thereby neither pollute the environment nor harm people. More concretely, this means that fossil fuel resources must be left in the ground, the means of production need to be socialised and democratised, and that we must rethink our overall attitude towards energy consumption”.


In the short time that has followed, energy democracy has shifted from an abstract idea to a set of real world processes and practices in motion across the world, inspiring hope in a different way of organising our energy systems, communities, cities and societies.

Whether it’s communities building co-operatively owned renewables or municipal governments undermining utility giants through local public power companies, workers organising to fight privatisation or social movements demanding government subsidy shifts from dirty to clean energy, people everywhere are acting together in pursuit of an energy sector owned collectively, with social justice, sustainability and popular control at its core.

And now, as the European left begins to recompose itself as a serious electoral force, building on experiments of previous years across Latin America, a new generation of progressive policy-makers and politicians find themselves in need of viable energy policies, fast. This presents energy democracy advocates with an unexpected opportunity to consolidate, strengthen and expand exciting energy experiments and, ultimately, to shape emancipatory energy transitions.

In this context, Global Justice Now, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Brussels Office and Transnational Institute decided to bring together representatives of left parties in the UK and Spain with expert energy democracy activists and researchers for a workshop in London to share ideas, problems and solutions. This article summarises and analyses the day’s discussions, with a view to advancing debates and informing future struggle.

The whole report can be read here.

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