Presentation on theme: "Social Movements and Energy Transitions: Lessons for the Clean Energy Movement Bruce Podobnik Department of Sociology Lewis & Clark College"— Presentation transcript:
Social Movements and Energy Transitions: Lessons for the Clean Energy Movement Bruce Podobnik Department of Sociology Lewis & Clark College
Three Systemic Factors Driving Global Energy Transitions (See Global Energy Shifts, by Bruce Podobnik) The dynamics of geopolitical rivalry (extensively examined in conventional analyses) The dynamics of corporate competition (extensively examined in conventional analyses) The dynamics of social conflict (not so extensively examined, but crucial and the focus of the rest of this talk)
Dynamics of Social Conflict and the First Global Energy Shift Massive waves of labor unrest swept through established coal industries in the period , and then even larger disruptions occurred in Governments, companies, and consumers shifted toward oil and natural gas after these periods of labor unrest.
Social Movements and Coal High level of danger in underground mines. Positional power enjoyed by coal miners. Mobilization of large numbers of people, into persistent campaigns. Impacts: Medium term: improvements for miners. Longer term: shift to surface mining, oil.
Social Movements and Oil De-Colonization in Middle East brought new generation of leaders into power. Positional power held by nationalist leaders. Mobilization of large numbers of people into persistent campaigns against oil companies. Revolutionary movements (Iran in 1979). Impacts: rapid nationalization of oil, embargo, price shocks, shift toward more diversified and efficient energy system.
Social Movements and Nuclear Power From the outset of the nuclear power industries, protests took place. No positional power, and little support from national leaders. Mobilization of large numbers of people. Use of multi-faceted tactics (legal, scientific, media strategies). Impact: helped contain the growth of nuclear power.
Lessons for the Clean Energy Movement History demonstrates the important impact that mass movements can have on global energy industries. It is important to see what has worked in the past, so we do not become overly-focused on new tactics and forget strategies that worked in many contexts in the past.
Lesson #1 The crucial importance of mass movements. Mobilizations differ in terms of duration, size, intensity. Coal: large protests, lasted a long time, intense. Oil: large protests, lasted a moderate time. Nuclear: modest protests, modest time. Note, though, that in each case large numbers of people were mobilized over many days, weeks, or months, in physical campaigns.
Lesson #1 and the Clean Energy Movement Protests so far have tended to be quite small and short in duration. Tendency to focus on virtual campaigns. Tendency to focus on media. More mass mobilizations needed.
Lesson #2 Groups that can develop strategic power around an energy industry increase their impact. Coal: positional power derived from within mines. Oil: positional power derived from within the state and societies where oil was located. Nuclear: not much positional power.
Lesson #2 and the Clean Energy Movement How to increase positional power in the Clean Energy Movement? Identify where large energy facilities generate serious disruptions, and are vulnerable to local unrest (Nigeria, Alberta). Capacity to mobilize coal miners in China? Important for Clean Energy Movement to identify potential points of positional advantage, and organize there.
Lesson #3 Citizens in the developing world have more transformative potential than has been realized. Negative impacts of energy price volatility and climate change will hit global south most intensely. If social unrest can be harnessed into large- scale mobilizations, then leaders of key countries can push for more aggressive action on global level (Brazil, South Africa, India).
Lesson #4 Multi-faceted tactics do have a role. The Clean Energy Movement has already proven capable of using innovative networking, media, coalition-building. Connections to the ‘movement of movements’ may allow the Clean Energy Movement to grow more quickly than many expect.
Conclusion Questions, critiques, suggestions are welcome! Bruce Podobnik