Guest speaker Julie MacArthur to explore energy democracy and its role in innovation

MacArthur talk promo image shows protesters
MacArthur talk

Energy democracy entails increased citizen participation in, and control of, energy sector activities. With the Fridays for Future Climate Strikes and discussions about a Green New Deal becoming increasingly important in the public, movements for energy democracy and energy justice are on the rise.

Julie MacArthur

A public talk about energy democracy and energy justice will take place at York University on Feb. 3 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Titled “Energy Democracy in Neoliberal Contexts: Lessons from Aotearoa New Zealand,” the talk will be delivered by invited speaker Julie MacArthur, senior lecturer, University of Auckland, New Zealand, a leading expert in energy democracy and community energy in energy transitions. This is a topic she has studied extensively in Canada, New Zealand, Denmark and the U.K.

MacArthur’s talk will focus on the promise of energy democracy in Aotearoa, New Zealand. A country that already has a significant share of energy from renewable sources at 83 per cent, New Zealand still faces significant challenges in addressing issues of energy poverty and energy system transformation in distribution, storage and energy efficiency.

Recent research highlights how democratic innovations from citizen policy forums to direct asset ownership and control in “community power” may contribute to much needed energy transitions away from fossil fuels, and contribute to addressing the current global climate crisis. However, much of this research to date has taken place in Western European contexts, and has largely focused on renewable power generation projects in settings with strong (if variable) policy support. A more critical scholarship has also emerged as to whether benefits in theory translate in practice, and travel across contexts.

New Zealand provides a useful case for understanding the unique role that local energy democracy may play in contexts which lack or lose policy support, and those where postcolonial struggles for indigenous sovereignty feature prominently, like Canada.

MacArthur will be introduced by one of York University’s experts in community energy, JJ McMurtry, dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. This talk is organized by the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies with support from director Professor Gabrielle Slowey and by the Social Exergy and Energy Lab and the research cluster Women and Inclusivity in Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) Network with the support of Professor Christina Hoicka.

MacArthur is a senior lecturer in politics and international relations and the Master of Public Policy program at the University of Auckland, where she teaches environmental politics and public policy. She is the author of Empowering Electricity: Co-operatives, Sustainability and Power Sector Reform in Canada (UBC Press, 2016), as well as more than 20 articles and book chapters on energy democracy, participatory environmental governance and comparative energy policy.

To RSVP, visit the Eventbrite listing. The event will be followed by a reception.