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Mithra Moezzi: Energy transition story shakeup

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1:55 PM, Monday 31 May 2021 EDT (1 hour 15 minutes)

To combat climate change, many governments have made plans to overhaul how their jurisdictions use energy, transitioning from fossil-fuel centered systems to low-carbon ones. Critics say these transition plans are too focused on narrow versions of technology solutionism, and arise from cultures, cadres, and calculations that created climate change in the first place. Implementation will devalue some people, places, and ways of living and foster others. Who wants a smart home, for example?

How might we weave more inclusivity and depth into how the energy future is imagined? To explore this question, I present anthropological views of energy transition storytelling and of energy technologies—views seldom brought into the pragmatics of transition planning. I use historical examples to explore blind spots in how the energy future is being constructed and to build footholds for recasting energy system transitions as sociotechnical transitions negotiated in a tremendously diverse, fragile world. The audience is invited to contribute examples of cultural bridging and cultural blindness in change planning.

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