PRIN PNRR 2022 - Democratizing Energy, Energizing Democracy (DEED): A deliberative, participatory energy democracy for an inclusive ecological transition

The project aims to investigate and develop the idea of energy democracy (ED) through the lens of political philosophy. The objective is to arrive at a conception of ED that, in being feasible, deepens and expands the socially inclusive, deliberative, and participatory aspects of the concept, making it more capable of ensuring a just and participated ecological transition, and, thereby, to contribute to environmental quality.

The idea of ED has only recently transitioned into academic debate, while also being partially incorporated in legislative directives. A widely accepted definition of ED is still lacking, but the basic aspects of the concept are the production of energy from renewables in interdependent energy communities implying some degree of citizen participation in relevant decisions. Firstly, we will carry out an historical-conceptual reconstruction of the idea of ED, to elaborate, then, a preliminary re-conception of ED emphasizing the nexus between ecological and environmental justice, deliberative and participatory democracy, and social inclusion, which we will argue as
complementary aspects for a just and sustainable society. Through recourse to the theories of the world-systems, we will then analyze the geopolitical conflicts, environmental issues, and global structural inequalities inherent to the current energy system, and critically consider the technocratic tendencies observable in today’s transition to renewables. Against the results of this macro-level enquiry, we will test our preliminary idea of ED, refining it in the process. The same will be done with reference to the forms of social exclusion and oppression individuals face daily on the micro-level, also intersectionally to their gender, class, ethic group, etc., as an implication of the current energy system. We will examine these structural injustices and see how our idea of ED can be perfected to undermine them.
We will also consider the potentials opened up by the integration of ED with democratic deliberation and participation, tackling the challenges this implies: e.g., the often uneasy relation between experts, citizens, movements, institutions; the choice between purely
procedural or substantive forms of deliberation, up to the theme of environmental constitutionalism; and also the possibilities, offered by the scalability of energy communities, for a sustainable and socially inclusive global deliberative democracy. As methodological tools, we will use theories of democracy and deliberation, structural injustice analysis, world-systems theories. The research will be carried out by a network of scholars mainly from the field of political philosophy, in close interaction with experts in environmental issues and other relevant disciplines. The project will bring theoretical and (prospectively) practical results, refining the idea of ED and providing the theoretical bases for institutional measures leading to an inclusive and democratic energy transition.

Responsabile del Gruppo

Eleonora Piromalli

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