Imagining the future to dismantle the present: Governing a ‘just transition’ in high-carbon economies

Energy systems are at the heart of initiatives to tackle climate change in research, policy and practice. To date, energy transitions research and practice has focused on the new social and technical systems required for a low-carbon transition. There is, however, a dearth of research on the question of what happens with the old.

My proposed research seeks to address this gap by focussing on two main questions: (1) what forms of social and material life are undone or unmade through attempts to ‘green’ energy infrastructures, and (2) how do visions of the ‘new’ govern these processes of ‘unmaking’.I will do so through three qualitative case studies of fossil fuel-dependent regions in Scotland, the Netherlands and Canada (based around oil, natural gas, and coal). These cases will provide insights in the ways in which present social and material relations of high-carbon infrastructures shape the futures imagined and vice versa. I will emphasise the justice dimensions embedded in this process. Being attentive to justice is important as processes of imagination and governance are multi-actor efforts, characterised by uneven power relations. By analysing how future imaginaries are negotiated and enacted this research contributes to a situated understanding of post-carbon futures; how such understandings enact, and are enacted by, the governance process of ‘unmaking’ high carbon economies today; and how recognition and procedural justice are negotiated through these processes.

SEK 3,949,708


January 20200 - December 2023


Bregje van Veelen

Last modified: 2022-08-27