Community Involvement in the Energy Transition: a shift towards community ownership
A case study on addressing complex regulatory challenges associated with climate compatible development (by Dr Annalisa Savaresi, University of Stirling Law School)
The fight against climate change requires replacing fossil fuel-based energy generation technologies with renewable ones. Energy transitions raise complex regulatory questions not only associated with reforming existing energy systems, but also with the distribution of the related societal benefits and burdens. For example, the building of hydroelectric dams may affect pre-existing water uses and the rights and interests of those using a given water basin for fishing, irrigation, recreational purposes, etc. The same may be said about the construction of onshore wind farms and of their impacts on existing land uses. States’ and developers’ obligations in relation to renewable energy generation are context specific and depend on the existing applicable international (particularly in the transboundary context), regional, national and subnational law, as well as on industry practices.
The most recent evolution in addressing complex regulatory questions associated with renewable energy generation has been facilitating and even mandating community ownership of renewable energy infrastructure. Countries like Denmark, Germany and the UK have experimented with this approach to tackle the ‘Not In My Back Yard’ (NIMBY) effect often associated with the development of renewable energy infrastructure. Community ownership of renewable energy infrastructure has also been linked to the decentralisation and democratisation of energy governance, especially in Scotland.
Corresponding legislation in developing countries
- May draw inspiration from these experiences to reform centralised energy systems and adopt measures to integrate community ownership schemes in the development of renewable energy infrastructure, such as, for example, small community-owned hydropower generation facilities.
- Should pay particular attention to the role of practices like benefit-sharing and environmental and social impact assessments in enabling the equitable drafting and implementation of renewable energy laws and policies. The involvement of stakeholders affected by the development of renewable energy infrastructure is essential to identify and implement solutions that balance the pursuit of climate change objectives with that of other societal and environmental priorities.
Join us on 27 September as we engage with development organisations, donor agencies, legal professionals and UK based diplomats to discuss the wider challenges of delivering progressive climate action through legislation and policy post-Paris.
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