A new special issue in the journal Energy Research and Social Science guest edited by Prof Vanesa Castán Broto and Dr Lucy Baker , Research Fellow at the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED), highlights the significance of a ‘spatial and relational’ approach to energy studies. This approach looks beyond seeing energy as an economic asset, ecological phenomenon or resource; and sees it instead as a geographical phenomenon involving relationships in society.
The 18 papers in this special issue critically address global energy challenges and argue that an approach that considers geographical relationships and linkages can help better understand issues around justice, access and distribution and in this way, advance a more equitable energy transition.
Dr Baker said:
“This approach also challenges the concept of energy as a neutral, technical and physical entity and for instance prompts the need to ask systemic questions that cut across energy, geography, and society, including the patterns and scales of energy supply, distribution and consumption, and the energy-dependence of everyday activities“.
The special issue, titled ‘Spatial adventures in energy studies‘ contains an introduction written by the guest editors, which summarises the literature in this field. A second article by Dr Baker titled ‘Of embodied emissions and inequality: Rethinking energy consumption‘ examines how the consumption of energy and associated greenhouse gas emissions embodied in goods, services and commodities has become thoroughly separated and dislocated from its production. The paper calls for climate policy to account for greenhouse gas emissions from a consumption-basis which would mean that the responsibility for emissions reduction would be shared by those countries that consume energy-intensive goods as well as those that produce them.
The article, which uses the United Kingdom as a case study, argues that to reduce energy demand we need to go beyond domestic policies such as energy efficiency and also understand factors such as bargaining power in trade, foreign policy, industrial strategy and international relations.
Read the papers in the special issue.