(De)politicising energy vulnerability at the European scale

By Stefan Bouzarovski

Continuing along the politicisation theme that Sergio started in his previous post, readers of this blog may find of interest my recent presentation at the 8th International Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference in Vienna. I participated, via an online link, in the panel on Arena Shifting and Urban/Regional Politics: Depoliticization, Conflict and Democracy.

The presentation explored the different ways in which energy poverty and vulnerability policies are being subject to forces which either attempt to move these issues into the political arena, or relegate them to the domain of experts and technocrats.

These forces operate at different scales and sites of governance. For example: While energy poverty entered the vocabulary of EU institutions through a highly politically-driven process (we wrote about this with Saska Petrova and Robert Sarlamanov in an article on EU energy poverty policy for the special issue of the journal Energy Policy edited by Brenda Boardman and Christine Liddell), recent years have seen the use of the ‘vulnerability’ agenda as a tool of building technocratic consensus (despite the fact that the underlying conditions that create vulnerability are deeply rooted in political dynamics). Similarly, energy efficiency action plans have been used as a depoliticising tool at the urban and regional scale, even though political protests over high utility bills are underway across Europe.

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