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Democratic, yet rapid, climate mobilization? Investigating the promise of scaling up local energy transitions in a deliberative system

Dr. Laurence L. Delina
Boston University 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019
3:00 pm to 4:30pm
ESI Conference Room
29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
Block A, #10-01, Singapore 119620 

Please send us your name, organization and email address via the ESI website here. For enquiries, please contact Ms. Jan Lui at 6516 2000.

Abstract

Scaling climate mobilization efforts to mitigate the accelerating impacts of climate change are now an imperative; but can these processes be accomplished and scaled up without necessarily sacrificing democratic ideals? In this talk, Dr. Delina will show how climate mobilizations and democracy can be mutually inclusive and, at the same time, explore the promise of scaling up democratically produced climate mobilization actions in local settings in understudied locations in a non-democratic developing country. The paper focuses on a case study of deliberation as a communal practice for expanding energy transitions in rural Thailand. Using data gathered from field observations, complemented by face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions, this talk will include two key parts. Firstly, Dr. Delina will provide an empirical description of how such practice had performed well empirically against the theoretical ideals of deliberative democracy: inclusivity, authenticity, and influence – to underline the compatibility between a robust democratic exercise and green outcomes even in a non-democratic state. Secondly and taking advantage of the systemic turn in the deliberative democracy literature, he will advance a normative imaginary on how such small-scale transitions can be connected in a deliberative system to fuel and intensify a large-scale energy transition; hence meeting the need for scale and acceleration of climate action. He will close the talk by describing the contestations and tensions, challenges and limitations of this “promise” in delivering actual, measurable, replicable, and democratic approaches to climate mitigation that need to rapidly travel across time and space.

About the Speaker
Dr. Laurence L. Delina conducts research at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University. Aside from publishing on climate change, energy and sustainable development in highimpact journals, he has also authored four books on rapid climate mitigation, accelerating energy transitions, and emancipatory and transformative climate actions. He has consulted for the United Nations, was a Rachel Carson Fellow, and was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.




Event Summary 
On 2 July 2019, ESI received a visit from Dr Laurence L. Delina, Post-Doctoral Associate at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Dr Delina delivered a public seminar titled “Democratic, yet Rapid, Climate Mobilization? Investigating the Promise of Scaling Up Local Energy Transitions in a Deliberative System.”


In his talk, Dr. Delina argued that climate mobilisation efforts and democratic processes do not need to be mutually exclusive, even in a country with a non-democratic political system. Using data gathered from field observations, face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions in rural Thailand, Dr Delina described home-grown deliberative processes to expand energy transition that have the potential to contribute toward climate mobilisation at the national level.

In the first part of the talk, he provided empirical evidence of how such local practices had performed well against the theoretical ideals of deliberative democracy, namely, inclusivity, authenticity, and influence. Subsequently, he described how such small-scale transitions could fuel and intensify a large-scale energy transition, which could, in turn, contribute toward the scale and acceleration needed for climate action. Dr Delina closed the talk by describing the contestations and tensions, as well as the challenges and limitations of this “promise”, against delivering actual, measurable, replicable and democratic approaches to climate mitigation.

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