From energy access to climate justice and from anti-privatisation to workers’ rights, people across the world are taking back power over the energy sector, kicking-back against the rule of the market and reimagining how energy might be produced, distributed and used. For many movements involved in struggles around energy, the concept of energy democracy is proving increasingly useful as a means of bringing together disparate but clearly linked causes under a shared discourse and, possibly, something of a common agenda.
There is no singular understanding of the call for energy democracy. The term clearly evokes a desire for collective control over the energy sector, counterposed with the dominant neoliberal culture of marketisation, individualisation and corporate control. Energy democracy is concerned with shifting power over all aspects of the sector – from production to distribution and supply, from finance to technology and knowledge – to energy users and workers. Movements deploying the concept of energy democracy also demand a socially just energy system, meaning universal access, fair prices and secure, unionised and well-paid jobs. They want an energy system that works in the public interest, with the profit motive giving way to social and environmental goals. And they seek a transition from high to low carbon energy sources, ultimately meaning a world powered entirely by renewable energy.
This report summarises the discussions and outcomes from an international workshop on energy democracy held in Amsterdam in February 2016. The workshop was organised by the Transnational Institute, in partnership with Global Justice Now, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brussels Office, Platform London, Switched on London, Berlin Energy Roundtable, the Alternative Information and Development Centre, Public Services International, and the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy initiative.