Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Jenny Lieu (ETH Zurich)
Session Abstract: This 2 panel series brings together and international and interdisciplinary group of researchers to examine recent theoretical and empirical developments in gender and energy research. Panel 1 focuses on the theoretical and conceptual issues raised by the role of women in energy transitions, while panel 2 focuses on specific empirical cases. A global transition to sustainable energy systems is more important than ever and will likely attract increasing investment from public and private sectors in the next decade (OECD, 2017; REN21, 2017). According to a recent Global Commission on Environment and Economy report, energy transitions will require more than $90billion in investment to meet 2 degree climate targets set in Paris (Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, 2018). While the global benefits of climate mitigation might be obvious in terms of disaster planning and resilience, political economy and equity issues in terms of employment, local investment, and decision making power are far less clear (Barry, 2012), as are their implications for climate policy effectiveness. Gender inequalities are particularly acute within the energy sector, where the fuels (renewable or non-renewable) we use to power our homes, transport systems, schools, and businesses, are produced, shared, and consumed (Daggett, 2018). However, we know very little as to how these gender differences manifest within and between countries. Interdisciplinary scholarship on the implications of gender imbalances in the sector and climate mitigation and adaptation is developing rapidly, but with increasing calls for detailed empirical research in diverse national and sub-sector contexts.
Gender Matters: Sustainable Energy Transformations and Gender Relations in Industrialized Countries: Cornelia Fraune (Technische Universität Darmstadt) Abstract: By utilizing an institutional feminist economics approach, the paper explains the nexus between gender relations and energy production, energy consumption, and energy policymaking in rich countries. Theoretically, from the perspective of free market economy and nondiscrimination law, industrial countries’ energy policies appear to be gender-neutral (Clancy and Röhr 2003). Rather than access to modern energy and practical needs, women’s entitlements to use energy services, as well as their participation in energy policy-making, the energy sector as well as in energy related research, are issues of gender and energy research in the context of industrial countries (Clancy and Röhr 2003; Baruah 2016; Carlsson-Kanyama, Ripa Juliá, and Röhr 2010; Fraune 2015; Pearl-Martinez and Stephens 2016; Sovacool 2014). Still, research is concerned with women’s practical welfare needs, i.e. changing the gendered distribution of energy transformation’s related benefits and costs, rather than addressing women’s strategic needs by explaining how gender relations both shape and are shaped energy policies.
Benefits and Participation in a Low-Carbon Energy Transition: Christina Hoicka (York University) Abstract: A low-carbon energy transition depends on whether communities, made up of individuals, households and organizations, adopt or engage with distributive and demand-side innovations. This transition is already underway, and how it occurs will set the future path of energy systems and the extent to which they are low-carbon, renewable and just. Emerging demand-side innovations have the potential to bring about new sociotechnical configurations that challenge the current governance and control of conventional energy systems and create opportunities for stronger participation, citizenship and control of energy systems—factors that have been associated with social and economic benefits to communities. Three areas of literature and practice that address these factors are energy democracy, energy justice and community energy. These areas appear to share common normative concerns but are not well defined in literature and research demonstrates that there is not always overlap between them. For example, few women participate in the renewable energy sector, and participants in community energy ownership tend to involve wealthy, well-educated males, suggesting that community energy fails to empower individuals who were not already empowered to participate. This paper investigates what would encourage communities to participate in a transformative energy transition by considering the social and economic benefits and barriers that are perceived as important in energy justice, energy democracy and community energy literatures; and by exploring how these benefits can be built into the emerging innovations that mediate this transition.
Gender and Household Energy Use: Ines Havet (University of Waterloo) Abstract: Household energy consumption of women and men is mostly invisible for countries in the global north. Studies have nevertheless found differences in household energy use between women and men, which may reflect power relations between women and men, embedded in both institutions and daily interactions. This paper will review those theories applicable to research on household energy use and gender for countries in the global north. These include for instance theories of household economics based on bargaining and cooperative models, of sociotechnical change such as social network analysis and social practice theory, and of gender such as ‘doing gender’ and ‘undoing gender’. An interdisciplinary lens will necessarily be applied to this review, and an approach will be proposed to integrating these different perspectives. Some methodological issues will also be considered.