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Energy 2050 public dialogue used as case study in review of engagement on low carbon energy transitions

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The Energy 2050 Pathways public dialogue project was commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), supported by Sciencewise and completed in 2011. The project has been used recently as one of four case studies in a recent review of engagement on low carbon energy transitions in the UK.

The various elements of the Energy 2050 Pathways project are described in the paper, and reference is made to the Sciencewise guiding principles. The four case studies are compared in relation to enrolment and mediation, exclusions and resistances, model of participation (Energy 2050 described as “Invited deliberative / professionally facilitated”), the role of the public (in Energy 2050 described as “deliberative citizens”), and issue / vision.

The analysis in the paper is seen to be “opening up the notion of participation in transitions, extending it beyond sites of deliberative fora to multiple forms of public engagement across low carbon energy systems including activism, grassroots innovation, and interactions with more mundane technologies in everyday life …  To this end we can begin to conceive of wider ‘ecologies of participation’ comprising of diverse participatory
collectives which are themselves entangled, interrelated and mutually co-productive”

The lesson the paper draws from the analysis is the importance of “moving towards more deliberately reflexive governance for sustainability and attending to the politics of socio-technical transitions, at least when it comes to participation and ‘the public’”, particularly in relation to the partiality of framing and exclusions, constructions of publics, and the models of participation used.

‘Participation in Transition(s): Reconceiving Public Engagements in Energy Transitions as Co-Produced, Emergent and Diverse, by Jason Chilvers and Noel Longhurst. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, January 2016.