CfP POLLEN20 – Renewable Energies and Agrarian Change: Contestations over Low Carbon Investments*

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

*This session is part of ‘Conversations between political ecology and critical agrarian studies’, a series of six linked sessions that will explore complementarities and tensions between political ecology and critical agrarian studies in relation to land, energy, environment and nature, degrowth, green economies and agrarian struggles and agrarian and environmental movements. 

Session organizer

Gerardo A. Torres Contreras (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex). Please send abstracts of 250 words of less to g.torrescontreras@ids.ac.uk no later than November22nd.

Session description

Renewable Energies are expected to play a significant role in the energetic transition towards the development of greener energy production systems. Climate change mitigation investments are supposed to reduce environmental degradations related to fossil fuels, ensure energy security and to foster both economic and social development. However, these transitions have to be situated in the local time and space.

With this in mind, little attention has been put to the role renewable energies play out in land dynamics and land use change because of the ‘materialities’ of these projects. Only in wind energy projects, for instance, infrastructure only occupies between 5 to 7 percent of the total extension of land required for a project. This means that not only the land within the wind farm projects remains productive while windmills harvest energy but that also we assist to processes of agrarian change resulting from these new land dynamics.

The energetic transition, in this sense, draws attention to the need for land and the pressures that such spatial requirement exert on rural lands and people by displacing or hindering existing or alternative land uses (Huber and McCarthy, 2017, p. 11). In this sense, it is worth exploring the following questions:

  • How do politics around renewable energies interact with land dynamics?
  • How do they foster or undermine patterns of accumulation within and across host communities?
  • How are these dynamics associated with processes of class formation and social differentiation?
  • How are they modifying local relations of production?

CfP POLLEN20 – Green financialization: Renewable energy transitions and the power of green finance flows

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Please circulate widely and send us your abstracts (up to 250 words) till November 10th to Franziska Müller (fmueller@uni-kassel.de)

Session description

Renewable energy is rapidly gaining relevance as a key energy source in many countries in the Global South. While more and more states adopt renewable energy policies, green finance flows to the Global South have equivocally reached unprecedented heights. This is echoed by renewable energy policies that primarily address green investors, for instance through auction instruments. Increasingly also derisking agendas are rolled out, which aim at creating a green level playing field for transnational investors. Likewise, the promotion of private dispute settlement in the energy sector, most prominently through the energy charter treaty, uses juridical powers to stabilize the newly emerging green investment regimes.

Altogether, these developments raise the concern that the democratizing powers of renewable energy transitions are downplayed, whilst the contours of green transnational statehood are materializing. In this context, ‘financialization’ has advanced as an analytical concept that allows to explore the abstract juridical or financial powers but also the ‘financialization of daily life’ that currently restructure the course of renewable energy transitions, particularly in the Global South. We see the need to ask how financialization works as a powerful political strategy and which typical instruments, bureaucracies and programs are mobilized. We are interested in mapping, analyzing and criticizing the powers of green finance in the Global South and want to start a conversation both on theoretical approaches towards financialization and on empirical cases that highlight idiosyncratic features in Southern energy sectors.

We welcome papers that address (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • Which policies fostering financialization are currently emerging?
  • How do the abstract powers of green financialization play out in a financalization of daily life?
  • How is the postcolonial state especially prone to a ‘relaunch’ in the shape of green transnational statehood?
  • How are concrete political agendas, such as the Energy Charter Treaty/International Energy Charter or the Compact with Africa contributing to green financialization?
  • Which theoretical approaches – e.g. engaging scholarship from International Political Economy, governmentality, new constitutionalism, or critical geography seem fruitful for analyzing financialization?

End the “Green” Delusions: Industrial-scale Renewable Energy is Fossil Fuel+