Contested energy transitions

Contested energy transitions.
Conflicts and Social innovations in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, and France

A project carried out within the TANDEM program CNRS/AVČR, developed by the Czech Academy of Sciences, Charles University and CEFRES/CNRS united within the Platform for Cooperation and Excellence in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Principal investigators: Martin Ďurďovič, Gilles Lepesant
Member of the team: Krzysztof Tarkowski

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has induced energy security challenges. The goal of the European Green Deal (2019) to reach climate neutrality by 2050 remains, however, the target. Achieving it implies an increase in low-carbon energy sources and changes in energy production, distribution, consumption, and conservation. Overcoming misconceptions and conflicts to achieve a just and fair transition is in this context crucial. This project focuses precisely on innovations and on challenges ahead in four countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, and France).

These countries have been hurt by the 2022 energy crisis as they all were, to a higher or lesser degree, reliant on Russian gas, oil, coal or uranium. Scaling up low-carbon investments has become a priority to wean the economies off Russian supplies and address EU priorities, especially the European Green Deal pledge to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and the ensuing „Fit for 55“ and „RePower EU“ plans.

However, the in-depth sociotechnical transformation faces selective resistance stemming from some political parties as well as a lack of social acceptance at local level. The increase in ambition regarding the deployment of renewables and the future of nuclear energy have provoked country-specific debates. Local opposition movements described as NYMBY (not-in-my-backyard) or BANANA (build-absolutely-nothing-anywhere-near-anything), have surged. Controversies over land use changes and biodiversity protection are gaining attention too.

Thus, concepts such as “public engagement”, “participation”, or “energy justice” to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account and conflicts are resolved have become key. Nevertheless, translating these concepts into different policy or national contexts (e.g., Central Europe) often entails country-specific hurdles.

In this context, the main objective of the project is to provide a better understanding of transition resistance and stakeholder conflicts arising as a result of the EU energy transition policies adoption and to identify new patterns in energy governance that help to overcome these challenges. This research is based on a comparative approach between the four countries and on a set of selected case studies at local and regional levels.